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Written by Jose Rizal   
Monday, 18 June 2007 23:04

 

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The Social Cancer

A Complete English Version of Noli Me Tangere from the Spanish of
José Rizal
By
Charles Derbyshire

Manila
Philippine Education Company
New York: World Book Company
1912

THE NOVELS OF JOSÉ RIZAL

Translated from Spanish into English

BY CHARLES DERBYSHIRE

· THE SOCIAL CANCER (NOLI ME TANGERE)

· THE REIGN OF GREED (EL FILIBUSTERISMO)

Copyright, 1912, by Philippine Education Company.
Entered at Stationers’ Hall.
Registrado en las Islas Filipinas.
All rights reserved.

Contents

 

 

Author’s Dedication

I

A Social Gathering

II

Crisostomo Ibarra

III

The Dinner

IV

Heretic and Filibuster

V

A Star in a Dark Night

VI

Capitan Tiago

VII

An Idyl on an Azotea

VIII

Recollections

IX

Local Affairs

X

The Town

XI

The Rulers

XII

All Saints

XIII

Signs of Storm

XIV

Tasio: Lunatic or Sage

XV

The Sacristans

XVI

Sisa

XVII

Basilio

XVIII

Souls In Torment

XIX

A Schoolmaster’s Difficulties

XX

The Meeting in the Town Hall

XXI

The Story of a Mother[liv]

XXII

Lights and Shadows

XXIII

Fishing

XXIV

In the Wood

XXV

In the House of the Sage

XXVI

The Eve of the Fiesta

XXVII

In the Twilight

XXVIII

Correspondence

XXIX

The Morning

XXX

In the Church

XXXI

The Sermon

XXXII

The Derrick

XXXIII

Free Thought

XXXIV

The Dinner

XXXV

Comments

XXXVI

The First Cloud

XXXVII

His Excellency

XXXVIII

The Procession

XXXIX

Doña Consolación

XL

Right and Might

XLI

Two Visits

XLII

The Espadañas

XLIII

Plans

XLIV

An Examination of Conscience

XLV

The Hunted

XLVI

The Cockpit

XLVII

The Two Señoras

XLVIII

The Enigma

XLIX

The Voice of the Hunted[iv]

L

Elias’s Story

LI

Exchanges

LII

The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows

LIII

Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina

LIV

Revelations

LV

The Catastrophe

LVI

Rumors and Belief

LVII

Vae Victis!

LVIII

The Accursed

LIX

Patriotism and Private Interests

LX

Maria Clara Weds

LXI

The Chase on the Lake

LXII

Padre Damaso Explains

LXIII

Christmas Eve

 

Epilogue

 

Glossary

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLI-Two Visits}

Chapter XLI

Two Visits

Ibarra was in such a state of mind that he found it impossible to sleep, so to distract his attention from the sad thoughts which are so exaggerated during the night-hours he set to work in his lonely cabinet. Day found him still making mixtures and combinations, to the action of which he subjected pieces of bamboo and other substances, placing them afterwards in numbered and sealed jars.

A servant entered to announce the arrival of a man who had the appearance of being from the country. "Show him in," said Ibarra without looking around.

Elias entered and remained standing in silence.

"Ah, it’s you!" exclaimed Ibarra in Tagalog when he recognized him. "Excuse me for making you wait, I didn’t notice that it was you. I’m making an important experiment."

"I don’t want to disturb you," answered the youthful pilot. "I’ve come first to ask you if there is anything I can do for you in the province, of Batangas, for which I am leaving immediately, and also to bring you some bad news."

Ibarra questioned him with a look.

"Capitan Tiago’s daughter is ill," continued Elias quietly, "but not seriously."

"That’s what I feared," murmured Ibarra in a weak voice. "Do you know what is the matter with her?"

"A fever. Now, if you have nothing to command—"

"Thank you, my friend, no. I wish you a pleasant journey. But first let me ask you a question—if it is indiscreet, do not answer."

Elias bowed.

[322]"How were you able to quiet the disturbance last night?" asked Ibarra, looking steadily at him. "Very easily," answered Elias in the most natural manner. "The leaders of the commotion were two brothers whose father died from a beating given him by the Civil Guard. One day I had the good fortune to save them from the same hands into which their father had fallen, and both are accordingly grateful to me. I appealed to them last night and they undertook to dissuade the rest."

"And those two brothers whose father died from the beating—"

"Will end as their father did," replied Elias in a low voice. "When misfortune has once singled out a family all its members must perish,—when the lightning strikes a tree the whole is reduced to ashes."

Ibarra fell silent on hearing this, so Elias took his leave. When the youth found himself alone he lost the serene self-possession he had maintained in the pilot’s presence. His sorrow pictured itself on his countenance. "I, I have made her suffer," he murmured.

He dressed himself quickly and descended the stairs. A small man, dressed in mourning, with a large scar on his left cheek, saluted him humbly, and detained him on his way.

"What do you want?" asked Ibarra.

"Sir, my name is Lucas, and I’m the brother of the man who was killed yesterday."

"Ah, you have my sympathy. Well?"

"Sir, I want to know how much you’re going to pay my brother’s family."

"Pay?" repeated the young man, unable to conceal his disgust. "We’ll talk of that later. Come back this afternoon, I’m in a hurry now."

"Only tell me how much you’re willing to pay," insisted Lucas.

"I’ve told you that we’ll talk about that some other time. I haven’t time now," repeated Ibarra impatiently.

[323]"You haven’t time now, sir?" asked Lucas bitterly, placing himself in front of the young man. "You haven’t time to consider the dead?" "Come this afternoon, my good man," replied Ibarra, restraining himself. "I’m on my way now to visit a sick person."

"Ah, for the sick you forget the dead? Do you think that because we are poor—"

Ibarra looked at him and interrupted, "Don’t try my patience!" then went on his way.

Lucas stood looking after him with a smile full of hate. "It’s easy to see that you’re the grandson of the man who tied my father out in the sun," he muttered between his teeth. "You still have the same blood."

Then with a change of tone he added, "But, if you pay well—friends!" [324]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLII -The Espadañas}

Chapter XLII

The Espadañas

The fiesta is over. The people of the town have again found, as in every other year, that their treasury is poorer, that they have worked, sweated, and stayed awake much without really amusing themselves, without gaining any new friends, and, in a word, that they have dearly bought their dissipation and their headaches. But this matters nothing, for the same will be done next year, the same the coming century, since it has always been the custom.

In Capitan Tiago’s house sadness reigns. All the windows are closed, the inmates move about noiselessly, and only in the kitchen do they dare to speak in natural tones. Maria Clara, the soul of the house, lies sick in bed and her condition is reflected in all the faces, as the sorrows of the mind may be read in the countenance of an individual.

"Which seems best to you, Isabel, shall I make a poor-offering to the cross of Tunasan or to the cross of Matahong?" asks the afflicted father in a low voice. "The Tunasan cross grows while the Matahong cross sweats which do you think is more miraculous?"

Aunt Isabel reflects, shakes her head, and murmurs, "To grow, to grow is a greater miracle than to sweat. All of us sweat, but not all of us grow."

"That’s right, Isabel; but remember that to sweat for the wood of which bench-legs are made to sweat—is not a small miracle. Come, the best thing will be to make poor-offerings to both crosses, so neither will resent it, and Maria will get better sooner. Are the rooms ready? You [325]know that with the doctors is coming a new gentleman, a distant relative of Padre Damaso’s. Nothing should be lacking." At the other end of the dining-room are the two cousins, Sinang and Victoria, who have come to keep the sick girl company. Andeng is helping them clean a silver tea-set.

"Do you know Dr. Espadaña?" the foster-sister of Maria Clara asks Victoria curiously.

"No," replies the latter, "the only thing that I know about him is that he charges high, according to Capitan Tiago."

"Then he must be good!" exclaims Andeng. "The one who performed an operation on Doña Maria charged high; so he was learned."

"Silly!" retorts Sinang. "Every one who charges high is not learned. Look at Dr. Guevara; after performing a bungling operation that cost the life of both mother and child, he charged the widower fifty pesos. The thing to know is how to charge!"

"What do you know about it?" asks her cousin, nudging her.

"Don’t I know? The husband, who is a poor sawyer, after losing his wife had to lose his home also, for the alcalde, being a friend of the doctor’s, made him pay. Don’t I know about it, when my father lent him the money to make the journey to Santa Cruz?"1 The sound of a carriage stopping in front of the house put an end to these conversations. Capitan Tiago, followed by Aunt Isabel, ran down the steps to welcome the new arrivals: the Doctor Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, his señora the Doctora Doña Victorina de los Reyes de De Espadaña, and a young Spaniard of pleasant countenance and agreeable aspect.

Doña Victorina was attired in a loose silk gown embroidered with flowers and a hat with a huge parrot half-crushed between blue and red ribbons. The dust of the [326]road mingled with the rice-powder on her cheeks seemed to accentuate her wrinkles. As at the time we saw her in Manila, she now supported her lame husband on her arm. "I have the pleasure of introducing to you our cousin, Don Alfonso Linares de Espadaña," said Doña Victorina, indicating their young companion. "The gentleman is a godson of a relative of Padre Damaso’s and has been private secretary to all the ministers."

The young man bowed politely and Capitan Tiago came very near to kissing his hand.

While their numerous trunks and traveling-bags are being carried in and Capitan Tiago is conducting them to their rooms, let us talk a little of this couple whose acquaintance we made slightly in the first chapters.

Doña Victorina was a lady of forty and five winters, which were equivalent to thirty and two summers according to her arithmetical calculations. She had been beautiful in her youth, having had, as she used to say, ‘good flesh,’ but in the ecstasies of contemplating herself she had looked with disdain on her many Filipino admirers, since her aspirations were toward another race. She had refused to bestow on any one her little white hand, not indeed from distrust, for not a few times had she given jewelry and gems of great value to various foreign and Spanish adventurers. Six months before the time of our story she had seen realized her most beautiful dream,—the dream of her whole life,—for which she might scorn the fond illusions of her youth and even the promises of love that Capitan Tiago had in other days whispered in her ear or sung in some serenade. Late, it is true, had the dream been realized, but Doña Victorina, who, although she spoke the language badly, was more Spanish than Augustina of Saragossa,2 understood the proverb, "Better late than never," and found consolation in repeating it to herself. "Absolute happiness does not exist on earth," [327]was another favorite proverb of hers, but she never used both together before other persons. Having passed her first, second, third, and fourth youth in casting her nets in the sea of the world for the object of her vigils, she had been compelled at last to content herself with what fate was willing to apportion her. Had the poor woman been only thirty and one instead of thirty and two summers—the difference according to her mode of reckoning was great—she would have restored to Destiny the award it offered her to wait for another more suited to her taste, but since man proposes and necessity disposes, she saw herself obliged in her great need for a husband to content herself with a poor fellow who had been cast out from Estremadura3 and who, after wandering about the world for six or seven years like a modern Ulysses, had at last found on the island of Luzon hospitality and a withered Calypso for his better half. This unhappy mortal, by name Tiburcio Espadaña, was only thirty-five years of age and looked like an old man, yet he was, nevertheless, younger than Doña Victorina, who was only thirty-two. The reason for this is easy to understand but dangerous to state. Don Tiburcio had come to the Philippines as a petty official in the Customs, but such had been his bad luck that, besides suffering severely from seasickness and breaking a leg during the voyage, he had been dismissed within a fortnight, just at the time when he found himself without a cuarto. After his rough experience on the sea he did not care to return to Spain without having made his fortune, so he decided to devote himself to something. Spanish pride forbade him to engage in manual labor, although the poor fellow would gladly have done any kind of work in order to earn an honest living. But the prestige of the Spaniards would not have allowed it, even though this prestige did not protect him from want.

[328]At first he had lived at the expense of some of his countrymen, but in his honesty the bread tasted bitter, so instead of getting fat he grew thin. Since he had neither learning nor money nor recommendations he was advised by his countrymen, who wished to get rid of him, to go to the provinces and pass himself off as a doctor of medicine. He refused at first, for he had learned nothing during the short period that he had spent as an attendant in a hospital, his duties there having been to dust off the benches and light the fires. But as his wants were pressing and as his scruples were soon laid to rest by his friends he finally listened to them and went to the provinces. He began by visiting some sick persons, and at first made only moderate charges, as his conscience dictated, but later, like the young philosopher of whom Samaniego4 tells, he ended by putting a higher price on his visits. Thus he soon passed for a great physician and would probably have made his fortune if the medical authorities in Manila had not heard of his exorbitant fees and the competition that he was causing others. Both private parties and professionals interceded for him. "Man," they said to the zealous medical official, "let him make his stake and as soon as he has six or seven thousand pesos he can go back home and live there in peace. After all, what does it matter to you if he does deceive the unwary Indians? They should be more careful! He’s a poor devil—don’t take the bread from his mouth—be a good Spaniard!" This official was a good Spaniard and agreed to wink at the matter, but the news soon reached the ears of the people and they began to distrust him, so in a little while he lost his practise and again saw himself obliged almost to [329]beg his daily bread. It was then that he learned through a friend, who was an intimate acquaintance of Doña Victorina’s, of the dire straits in which that lady was placed and also of her patriotism and her kind heart. Don Tiburcio then saw a patch of blue sky and asked to be introduced to her. Doña Victorina and Don Tiburcio met: tarde venientibus ossa,5 he would have exclaimed had he known Latin! She was no longer passable, she was passée. Her abundant hair had been reduced to a knot about the size of an onion, according to her maid, while her face was furrowed with wrinkles and her teeth were falling loose. Her eyes, too, had suffered considerably, so that she squinted frequently in looking any distance. Her disposition was the only part of her that remained intact. At the end of a half-hour’s conversation they understood and accepted each other. She would have preferred a Spaniard who was less lame, less stuttering, less bald, less toothless, who slobbered less when he talked, and who had more "spirit" and "quality," as she used to say, but that class of Spaniards no longer came to seek her hand. She had more than once heard it said that opportunity is pictured as being bald, and firmly believed that Don Tiburcio was opportunity itself, for as a result of his misfortunes he suffered from premature baldness. And what woman is not prudent at thirty-two years of age?

Don Tiburcio, for his part, felt a vague melancholy when he thought of his honeymoon, but smiled with resignation and called to his support the specter of hunger. Never had he been ambitious or pretentious; his tastes were simple and his desires limited; but his heart, untouched till then, had dreamed of a very different divinity. Back there in his youth when, worn out with work, he lay doom on his rough bed after a frugal meal, he used to fall asleep dreaming of an image, smiling and tender. Afterwards, when troubles and privations increased and with the [330]passing of years the poetical image failed to materialize, he thought modestly of a good woman, diligent and industrious, who would bring him a small dowry, to console him for the fatigues of his toil and to quarrel with him now and then—yes, he had thought of quarrels as a kind of happiness! But when obliged to wander from land to land in search not so much of fortune as of some simple means of livelihood for the remainder of his days; when, deluded by the stories of his countrymen from overseas, he had set out for the Philippines, realism gave, place to an arrogant mestiza or a beautiful Indian with big black eyes, gowned in silks and transparent draperies, loaded down with gold and diamonds, offering him her love, her carriages, her all. When he reached Manila he thought for a time that his dream was to be realized, for the young women whom he saw driving on the Luneta and the Malecon in silver-mounted carriages had gazed at him with some curiosity. Then after his position was gone, the mestiza and the Indian disappeared and with great effort he forced before himself the image of a widow, of course an agreeable widow! So when he saw his dream take shape in part he became sad, but with a certain touch of native philosophy said to himself, "Those were all dreams and in this world one does not live on dreams!" Thus he dispelled his doubts: she used rice-powder, but after their marriage he would break her of the habit; her face had many wrinkles, but his coat was torn and patched; she was a pretentious old woman, domineering and mannish, but hunger was more terrible, more domineering and pretentious still, and anyway, he had been blessed with a mild disposition for that very end, and love softens the character. She spoke Spanish badly, but he himself did not talk it well, as he had been told when notified of his dismissal Moreover, what did it matter to him if she was an ugly and ridiculous old woman? He was lame, toothless, and bald! Don Tiburcio preferred to take charge of her rather than to become a public charge from hunger. When some [331]friends joked with him about it, he answered, "Give me bread and call me a fool." Don Tiburcio was one of those men who are popularly spoken of as unwilling to harm a fly. Modest, incapable of harboring an unkind thought, in bygone days he would have been made a missionary. His stay in the country had not given him the conviction of grand superiority, of great valor, and of elevated importance that the greater part of his countrymen acquire in a few weeks. His heart had never been capable of entertaining hate nor had he been able to find a single filibuster; he saw only unhappy wretches whom he must despoil if he did not wish to be more unhappy than they were. When he was threatened with prosecution for passing himself off as a physician he was not resentful nor did he complain. Recognizing the justness of the charge against him, he merely answered, "But it’s necessary to live!"

So they married, or rather, bagged each other, and went to Santa Ann to spend their honeymoon. But on their wedding-night Doña Victorina was attacked by a horrible indigestion and Don Tiburcio thanked God and showed himself solicitous and attentive. A few days afterward, however, he looked into a mirror and smiled a sad smile as he gazed at his naked gums, for he had aged ten years at least.

Very well satisfied with her husband, Doña Victorina had a fine set of false teeth made for him and called in the best tailors of the city to attend to his clothing. She ordered carriages, sent to Batangas and Albay for the best ponies, and even obliged him to keep a pair for the races. Nor did she neglect her own person while she was transforming him. She laid aside the native costume for the European and substituted false frizzes for the simple Filipino coiffure, while her gowns, which fitted her marvelously ill, disturbed the peace of all the quiet neighborhood.

Her husband, who never went out on foot,—she did not care to have his lameness noticed,—took her on lonely [332]drives in unfrequented places to her great sorrow, for she wanted to show him off in public, but she kept quiet out of respect for their honeymoon. The last quarter was coming on when he took up the subject of the rice-powder, telling her that the use of it was false and unnatural. Doña Victorina wrinkled up her eyebrows and stared at his false teeth. He became silent, and she understood his weakness. She placed a de before her husband’s surname, since the de cost nothing and gave "quality" to the name, signing herself "Victorina de los Reyes de De Espadaña." This de was such a mania with her that neither the stationer nor her husband could get it out of her head. "If I write only one de it may be thought that you don’t have it, you fool!" she said to her husband.6 Soon she believed that she was about to become a mother, so she announced to all her acquaintances, "Next month De Espadaña and I are going to the Penyinsula. I don’t want our son to be born here and be called a revolutionist." She talked incessantly of the journey, having memorized the names of the different ports of call, so that it was a treat to hear her talk: "I’m going to see the isthmus in the Suez Canal—De Espadaña thinks it very beautiful and De Espadaña has traveled over the whole world." "I’ll probably not return to this land of savages." "I wasn’t born to live here—Aden or Port Said would suit me better—I’ve thought so ever since I was a girl." In her geography Doña Victorina divided the world into the Philippines and Spain; rather differently from the clever people who divide it into Spain and America or China for another name.

Her husband realized that these things were barbarisms, but held his peace to escape a scolding or reminders of his stuttering. To increase the illusion of approaching maternity she became whimsical, dressed herself in colors with [333]a profusion of flowers and ribbons, and appeared on the Escolta in a wrapper. But oh, the disenchantment! Three months went by and the dream faded, and now, having no reason for fearing that her son would be a revolutionist, she gave up the trip. She consulted doctors, midwives, old women, but all in vain. Having to the great displeasure of Capitan Tiago jested about St. Pascual Bailon, she was unwilling to appeal to any saint. For this reason a friend of her husband’s remarked to her: "Believe me, señora, you are the only strong-spirited person in this tiresome country."

She had smiled, without knowing what strong-spirited meant, but that night she asked her husband. "My dear," he answered, "the s-strongest s-spirit that I know of is ammonia. My f-friend must have s-spoken f-figuratively."

After that she would say on every possible occasion, "I’m the only ammonia in this tiresome country, speaking figuratively. So Señor N. de N., a Peninsular gentleman of quality, told me."

Whatever she said had to be done, for she had succeeded in dominating her husband completely. He on his part did not put up any great resistance and so was converted into a kind of lap-dog of hers. If she was displeased with him she would not let him go out, and when she was really angry she tore out his false teeth, thus leaving him a horrible sight for several days.

It soon occurred to her that her husband ought to be a doctor of medicine and surgery, and she so informed him.

"My dear, do you w-want me to be arrested?" he asked fearfully.

"Don’t be a fool! Leave me to arrange it," she answered. "You’re not going to treat any one, but I want people to call you Doctor and me Doctora, see?"

So on the following day Rodoreda7 received an order [334]to engrave on a slab of black marble: DR. DE ESPADAÑA, SPECIALIST IN ALL KINDS OF DISEASES. All the servants had to address them by their new titles, and as a result she increased the number of frizzes, the layers of rice-powder, the ribbons and laces, and gazed with more disdain than ever on her poor and unfortunate countrywomen whose husbands belonged to a lower grade of society than hers did. Day by day she felt more dignified and exalted and, by continuing in this way, at the end of a year she would have believed herself to be of divine origin. These sublime thoughts, however, did not keep her from becoming older and more ridiculous every day. Every time Capitan Tiago saw her and recalled having made love to her in vain he forthwith sent a peso to the church for a mass of thanksgiving. Still, he greatly respected her husband on account of his title of specialist in all kinds of diseases and listened attentively to the few phrases that he was able to stutter out. For this reason and because this doctor was more exclusive than others, Capitan Tiago had selected him to treat his daughter.

In regard to young Linares, that is another matter. When arranging for the trip to Spain, Doña Victorina had thought of having a Peninsular administrator, as she did not trust the Filipinos. Her husband bethought himself of a nephew of his in Madrid who was studying law and who was considered the brightest of the family. So they wrote to him, paying his passage in advance, and when the dream disappeared he was already on his way.

Such were the three persons who had just arrived. While they were partaking of a late breakfast, Padre Salvi came in. The Espadañas were already acquainted with him, and they introduced the blushing young Linares with all his titles.

As was natural, they talked of Maria Clara, who was resting and sleeping. They talked of their journey, and Doña Victorina exhibited all her verbosity in criticising the customs of the provincials,—their nipa houses, their [335]bamboo bridges; without forgetting to mention to the curate her intimacy with this and that high official and other persons of "quality" who were very fond of her. "If you had come two days ago, Doña Victorina," put in Capitan Tiago during a slight pause, "you would have met his Excellency, the Captain-General. He sat right there."

"What! How’s that? His Excellency here! In your house? No!"

"I tell you that he sat right there. If you had only come two days ago—"

"Ah, what a pity that Clarita did not get sick sooner!" she exclaimed with real feeling. Then turning to Linares, "Do you hear, cousin? His Excellency was here! Don’t you see now that De Espadaña was right when he told you that you weren’t going to the house of a miserable Indian? Because, you know, Don Santiago, in Madrid our cousin was the friend of ministers and dukes and dined in the house of Count El Campanario."

"The Duke of La Torte, Victorina," corrected her husband.8 "It’s the same thing. If you will tell me—"

"Shall I find Padre Damaso in his town?" interrupted Linares, addressing Padre Salvi. "I’ve been told that it’s near here."

"He’s right here and will be over in a little while," replied the curate.

"How glad I am of that! I have a letter to him," exclaimed the youth, "and if it were not for the happy chance that brings me here, I would have come expressly to visit him."

In the meantime the happy chance had awakened.

"De Espadaña," said Doña Victorina, when the meal was over, "shall we go in to see Clarita?" Then to Capitan Tiago, "Only for you, Don Santiago, only for [336]you! My husband only attends persons of quality, and yet, and yet—! He’s not like those here. In Madrid he only visited persons of quality." They adjourned to the sick girl’s chamber. The windows were closed from fear of a draught, so the room was almost dark, being only dimly illuminated by two tapers which burned before an image of the Virgin of Antipolo. Her head covered with a handkerchief saturated in cologne, her body wrapped carefully in white sheets which swathed her youthful form with many folds, under curtains of jusi and piña, the girl lay on her kamagon bed. Her hair formed a frame around her oval countenance and accentuated her transparent paleness, which was enlivened only by her large, sad eyes. At her side were her two friends and Andeng with a bouquet of tuberoses.

De Espadaña felt her pulse, examined her tongue, asked a few questions, and said, as he wagged his head from side to side, "S-she’s s-sick, but s-she c-can be c-cured." Doña Victorina looked proudly at the bystanders.

"Lichen with milk in the morning, syrup of marshmallow, two cynoglossum pills!" ordered De Espadaña.

"Cheer up, Clarita!" said Doña Victorina, going up to her. "We’ve come to cure you. I want to introduce our cousin."

Linares was so absorbed in the contemplation of those eloquent eyes, which seemed to be searching for some one, that he did not hear Doña Victorina name him.

"Señor Linares," said the curate, calling him out of his abstraction, "here comes Padre Damaso."

It was indeed Padre Damaso, but pale and rather sad. On leaving his bed his first visit was for Maria Clara. Nor was it the Padre Damaso of former times, hearty and self-confident; now he moved silently and with some hesitation. [337]

 

 

1 A similar incident occurred in Kalamba.—Author’s note. 2 "The Maid of Saragossa," noted for her heroic exploits during the siege of that city by the French in 1808–09.—TR.
3 A region in southwestern Spain, including the provinces of Badajoz and Caceres.—TR. 4 Author of a little book of fables in Castilian verse for the use of schools. The fable of the young philosopher illustrates the thought in Pope’s well-known lines: "Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."
—TR.
5 Bones for those who come late. 6 According to Spanish custom, a matron is known by prefixing her maiden name with de (possessive of) to her husband’s name.—TR.
7 The marble-shop of Rodoreda is still in existence on Calle Carriedo, Santa Cruz.—TR. 8 There is a play on words here, Campanario meaning belfry and Torre tower.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLIII -Plans}

Chapter XLIII

Plans

Without heeding any of the bystanders, Padre Damaso went directly to the bed of the sick girl and taking her hand said to her with ineffable tenderness, while tears sprang into his eyes, "Maria, my daughter, you mustn’t die!"

The sick girl opened her eyes and stared at him with a strange expression. No one who knew the Franciscan had suspected in him such tender feelings, no one had believed that under his rude and rough exterior there might beat a heart. Unable to go on, he withdrew from the girl’s side, weeping like a child, and went outside under the favorite vines of Maria Clara’s balcony to give free rein to his grief.

"How he loves his goddaughter!" thought all present, while Fray Salvi gazed at him motionlessly and in silence, lightly gnawing his lips the while.

When he had become somewhat calm again Doña Victorina introduced Linares, who approached him respectfully. Fray Damaso silently looked him over from head to foot, took the letter offered and read it, but apparently without understanding, for he asked, "And who are you?"

"Alfonso Linares, the godson of your brother-in-law," stammered the young man.

Padre Damaso threw back his body and looked the youth over again carefully. Then his features lighted up and he arose. "So you are the godson of Carlicos!" he exclaimed. "Come and let me embrace you! I got your letter several days ago. So it’s you! I didn’t recognize [338]you,—which is easily explained, for you weren’t born when I left the country,—I didn’t recognize you!" Padre Damaso squeezed his robust arms about the young man, who became very red, whether from modesty or lack of breath is not known. After the first moments of effusion had passed and inquiries about Carlicos and his wife had been made and answered, Padre Damaso asked, "Come now, what does Carlicos want me to do for you?"

"I believe he says something about that in the letter," Linares again stammered.

"In the letter? Let’s see! That’s right! He wants me to get you a job and a wife. Ahem! A job, a job that’s easy! Can you read and write?"

"I received my degree of law from the University."

"Carambas! So you’re a pettifogger! You don’t show it; you look more like a shy maiden. So much the better! But to get you a wife—"

"Padre, I’m not in such a great hurry," interrupted Linares in confusion.

But Padre Damaso was already pacing from one end of the hallway to the other, muttering, "A wife, a wife!" His countenance was no longer sad or merry but now wore an expression of great seriousness, while he seemed to be thinking deeply. Padre Salvi gazed on the scene from a distance.

"I didn’t think that the matter would trouble me so much," murmured Padre Damaso in a tearful voice. "But of two evils, the lesser!" Then raising his voice he approached Linares and said to him, "Come, boy, let’s talk to Santiago."

Linares turned pale and allowed himself to be dragged along by the priest, who moved thoughtfully. Then it was Padre Salvi’s turn to pace back and forth, pensive as ever.

A voice wishing him good morning drew him from his monotonous walk. He raised his head and saw Lucas, who saluted him humbly.

[339]"What do you want?" questioned the curate’s eyes. "Padre, I’m the brother of the man who was killed on the day of the fiesta," began Lucas in tearful accents.

The curate recoiled and murmured in a scarcely audible voice, "Well?"

Lucas made an effort to weep and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief. "Padre," he went on tearfully, "I’ve been to Don Crisostomo to ask for an indemnity. First he received me with kicks, saying that he wouldn’t pay anything since he himself had run the risk of getting killed through the fault of my dear, unfortunate brother. I went to talk to him yesterday, but he had gone to Manila. He left me five hundred pesos for charity’s sake and charged me not to come back again. Ah, Padre, five hundred pesos for my poor brother—five hundred pesos! Ah, Padre—"

At first the curate had listened with surprise and attention while his lips curled slightly with a smile of such disdain and sarcasm at the sight of this farce that, had Lucas noticed it, he would have run away at top speed. "Now what do you want?" he asked, turning away.

"Ah, Padre, tell me for the love of God what I ought to do. The padre has always given good advice."

"Who told you so? You don’t belong in these parts."

"The padre is known all over the province."

With irritated looks Padre Salvi approached him and pointing to the street said to the now startled Lucas, "Go home and be thankful that Don Crisostomo didn’t have you sent to jail! Get out of here!"

Lucas forgot the part he was playing and murmured, "But I thought—"

"Get out of here!" cried Padre Salvi nervously.

"I would like to see Padre Damaso."

"Padre Damaso is busy. Get out of here!" again ordered the curate imperiously.

Lucas went down the stairway muttering, "He’s another of them—as he doesn’t pay well—the one who pays best!"

[340]At the sound of the curate’s voice all had hurried to the spot, including Padre Damaso, Capitan Tiago, and Linares. "An insolent vagabond who came to beg and who doesn’t want to work," explained Padre Salvi, picking up his hat and cane to return to the convento. [341]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLIV -An Examination of Conscience}

Chapter XLIV

An Examination of Conscience

Long days and weary nights passed at the sick girl’s bed. After having confessed herself, Maria Clara had suffered a relapse, and in her delirium she uttered only the name of the mother whom she had never known. But her girl friends, her father, and her aunt kept watch at her side. Offerings and alms were sent to all the miraculous images, Capitan Tiago vowed a gold cane to the Virgin of Antipolo, and at length the fever began to subside slowly and regularly.

Doctor De Espadaña was astonished at the virtues of the syrup of marshmallow and the infusion of lichen, prescriptions that he had not varied. Doña Victorina was so pleased with her husband that one day when he stepped on the train of her gown she did not apply her penal code to the extent of taking his set of false teeth away from him, but contented herself with merely exclaiming, "If you weren’t lame you’d even step on my corset!"—an article of apparel she did not wear.

One afternoon while Sinang and Victoria were visiting their friend, the curate, Capitan Tiago, and Doña Victorina’s family were conversing over their lunch in the dining-room.

"Well, I feel very sorry about it," said the doctor; "Padre Damaso also will regret it very much."

"Where do you say they’re transferring him to?" Linares asked the curate.

"To the province of Tayabas," replied the curate negligently.

"One who will be greatly affected by it is Maria Clara, [342]when she learns of it," said Capitan Tiago. "She loves him like a father." Fray Salvi looked at him askance.

"I believe, Padre," continued Capitan Tiago, "that all her illness is the result of the trouble on the last day of the fiesta."

"I’m of the same opinion, and think that you’ve done well not to let Señor Ibarra see her. She would have got worse.

"If it wasn’t for us," put in Doña Victorina, "Clarita would already be in heaven singing praises to God."

"Amen!" Capitan Tiago thought it his duty to exclaim. "It’s lucky for you that my husband didn’t have any patient of greater quality, for then you’d have had to call in another, and all those here are ignoramuses. My husband—"

"Just as I was saying," the curate in turn interrupted, "I think that the confession that Maria Clara made brought on the favorable crisis which has saved her life. A clean conscience is worth more than a lot of medicine. Don’t think that I deny the power of science, above all, that of surgery, but a clean conscience! Read the pious books and you’ll see how many cures are effected merely by a clean confession."

"Pardon me," objected the piqued Doña Victorina, "this power of the confessional—cure the alferez’s woman with a confession!"

"A wound, madam, is not a form of illness which the conscience can affect," replied Padre Salvi severely. "Nevertheless, a clean confession will preserve her from receiving in the future such blows as she got this morning."

"She deserves them!" went on Doña Victorina as if she had not heard what Padre Salvi said. "That woman is so insolent! In the church she did nothing but stare at me. You can see that she’s a nobody. Sunday I was going to ask her if she saw anything funny about my face, [343]but who would lower oneself to speak to people that are not of rank?" The curate, on his part, continued just as though he had not heard this tirade. "Believe me, Don Santiago, to complete your daughter’s recovery it’s necessary that she take communion tomorrow. I’ll bring the viaticum over here. I don’t think she has anything to confess, but yet, if she wants to confess herself tonight—"

"I don’t know," Doña Victorina instantly took advantage of a slight hesitation on Padre Salvi’s part to add, "I don’t understand how there can be men capable of marrying such a fright as that woman is. It’s easily seen where she comes from. She’s just dying of envy, you can see it! How much does an alferez get?"

"Accordingly, Don Santiago, tell your cousin to prepare the sick girl for the communion tomorrow. I’ll come over tonight to absolve her of her peccadillos."

Seeing Aunt Isabel come from the sick-room, he said to her in Tagalog, "Prepare your niece for confession tonight. Tomorrow I’ll bring over the viaticum. With that she’ll improve faster."

"But, Padre," Linares gathered up enough courage to ask faintly, "you don’t think that she’s in any danger of dying?"

"Don’t you worry," answered the padre without looking at him. "I know what I’m doing; I’ve helped take care of plenty of sick people before. Besides, she’ll decide herself whether or not she wishes to receive the holy communion and you’ll see that she says yes."

Capitan Tiago immediately agreed to everything, while Aunt Isabel returned to the sick girl’s chamber. Maria Clara was still in bed, pale, very pale, and at her side were her two friends.

"Take one more grain," Sinang whispered, as she offered her a white tablet that she took from a small glass tube. "He says that when you feel a rumbling or buzzing in your ears you are to stop the medicine."

[344]"Hasn’t he written to you again?" asked the sick girl in a low voice. "No, he must be very busy."

"Hasn’t he sent any message?"

"He says nothing more than that he’s going to try to get the Archbishop to absolve him from the excommunication, so that—"

This conversation was suspended at the aunt’s approach. "The padre says for you to get ready for confession, daughter," said the latter. "You girls must leave her so that she can make her examination of conscience."

"But it hasn’t been a week since she confessed!" protested Sinang. "I’m not sick and I don’t sin as often as that."

"Abá! Don’t you know what the curate says: the righteous sin seven times a day? Come, what book shall I bring you, the Ancora, the Ramillete, or the Camino Recto para ir al Cielo?"

Maria Clara did not answer.

"Well, you mustn’t tire yourself," added the good aunt to console her. "I’ll read the examination myself and you’ll have only to recall your sins."

"Write to him not to think of me any more," murmured Maria Clara in Sinang’s ear as the latter said good-by to her.

"What?"

But the aunt again approached, and Sinang had to go away without understanding what her friend had meant. The good old aunt drew a chair up to the light, put her spectacles on the end of her nose, and opened a booklet. "Pay close attention, daughter. I’m going to begin with the Ten Commandments. I’ll go slow so that you can meditate. If you don’t hear well tell me so that I can repeat. You know that in looking after your welfare I’m never weary."

She began to read in a monotonous and snuffling voice the considerations of cases of sinfulness. At the end of [345]each paragraph she made a long pause in order to give the girl time to recall her sins and to repent of them. Maria Clara stared vaguely into space. After finishing the first commandment, to love God above all things, Aunt Isabel looked at her over her spectacles and was satisfied with her sad and thoughtful mien. She coughed piously and after a long pause began to read the second commandment. The good old woman read with unction and when she had finished the commentaries looked again at her niece, who turned her head slowly to the other side.

"Bah!" said Aunt Isabel to herself. "With taking His holy name in vain the poor child has nothing to do. Let’s pass on to the third."1 The third commandment was analyzed and commented upon. After citing all the cases in which one can break it she again looked toward the bed. But now she lifted up her glasses and rubbed her eyes, for she had seen her niece raise a handkerchief to her face as if to wipe away tears.

"Hum, ahem! The poor child once went to sleep during the sermon." Then replacing her glasses on the end of her nose, she said, "Now let’s see if, just as you’ve failed to keep holy the Sabbath, you’ve failed to honor your father and mother."

So she read the fourth commandment in an even slower and more snuffling voice, thinking thus to give solemnity to the act, just as she had seen many friars do. Aunt Isabel had never heard a Quaker preach or she would also have trembled.

The sick girl, in the meantime, raised the handkerchief to her eyes several times and her breathing became more noticeable.

"What a good soul!" thought the old woman. "She who is so obedient and submissive to every one! I’ve committed more sins and yet I’ve never been able really to cry."

[346]She then began the fifth commandment with greater pauses and even more pronounced snuffling, if that were possible, and with such great enthusiasm that she did not hear the stifled sobs of her niece. Only in a pause which she made after the comments on homicide, by violence did she notice the groans of the sinner. Then her tone passed into the sublime as she read the rest of the commandment in accents that she tried to reader threatening, seeing that her niece was still weeping. "Weep, daughter, weep!" she said, approaching the bed. "The more you weep the sooner God will pardon you. Hold the sorrow of repentance as better than that of mere penitence. Weep, daughter, weep! You don’t know how much I enjoy seeing you weep. Beat yourself on the breast also, but not hard, for you’re still sick."

But, as if her sorrow needed mystery and solitude to make it increase, Maria Clara, on seeing herself observed, little by little stopped sighing and dried her eyes without saying anything or answering her aunt, who continued the reading. Since the wails of her audience had ceased, however, she lost her enthusiasm, and the last commandments made her so sleepy that she began to yawn, with great detriment to her snuffling, which was thus interrupted.

"If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it," thought the good old lady afterwards. "This girl sins like a soldier against the first five and from the sixth to the tenth not a venial sin, just the opposite to us! How the world does move now!"

So she lighted a large candle to the Virgin of Antipolo and two other smaller ones to Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of the Pillar,2 taking care to put away in a corner a marble crucifix to make it understand that the candles were not lighted for it. Nor did the Virgin of Delaroche have any share; she was an unknown foreigner, and Aunt Isabel had never heard of any miracle of hers.

[347]We do not know what occurred during the confession that night and we respect such secrets. But the confession was a long one and the aunt, who stood watch over her niece at a distance, could note that the curate, instead of turning his ear to hear the words of the sick girl, rather had his face turned toward hers, and seemed only to be trying to read, or divine, her thoughts by gazing into her beautiful eyes. Pale and with contracted lips Padre Salvi left the chamber. Looking at his forehead, which was gloomy and covered with perspiration, one would have said that it was he who had confessed and had not obtained absolution.

"Jesús, María, y José!" exclaimed Aunt Isabel, crossing herself to dispel an evil thought, "who understands the girls nowadays?" [348]

 

1 The Roman Catholic decalogue does not contain the commandment forbidding the worship of "graven images," its second being the prohibition against "taking His holy name in vain." To make up the ten, the commandment against covetousness is divided into two.—TR. 2 The famous Virgin of Saragossa, Spain, and patroness of Santa Cruz, Manila.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLV -The Hunted}

Chapter XLV

The Hunted

In the dim light shed by the moonbeams sifting through the thick foliage a man wandered through the forest with slow and cautious steps. From time to time, as if to find his way, he whistled a peculiar melody, which was answered in the distance by some one whistling the same air. The man would listen attentively and then make his way in the direction of the distant sound, until at length, after overcoming the thousand obstacles offered by the virgin forest in the night-time, he reached a small open space, which was bathed in the light of the moon in its first quarter. The high, tree-crowned rocks that rose about formed a kind of ruined amphitheater, in the center of which were scattered recently felled trees and charred logs among boulders covered with nature’s mantle of verdure.

Scarcely had the unknown arrived when another figure started suddenly from behind a large rock and advanced with drawn revolver. "Who are you?" he asked in Tagalog in an imperious tone, cocking the weapon.

"Is old Pablo among you?" inquired the unknown in an even tone, without answering the question or showing any signs of fear.

"You mean the capitan? Yes, he’s here."

"Then tell him that Elias is here looking for him," was the answer of the unknown, who was no other than the mysterious pilot.

"Are you Elias?" asked the other respectfully, as he approached him, not, however, ceasing to cover him with the revolver. "Then come!"

Elias followed him, and they penetrated into a kind of [349]cave sunk down in the depths of the earth. The guide, who seemed to be familiar with the way, warned the pilot when he should descend or turn aside or stoop down, so they were not long in reaching a kind of hall which was poorly lighted by pitch torches and occupied by twelve to fifteen armed men with dirty faces and soiled clothing, some seated and some lying down as they talked fitfully to one another. Resting his arms on a stone that served for a table and gazing thoughtfully at the torches, which gave out so little light for so much smoke, was seen an old, sad-featured man with his head wrapped in a bloody bandage. Did we not know that it was a den of tulisanes we might have said, on reading the look of desperation in the old man’s face, that it was the Tower of Hunger on the eve before Ugolino devoured his sons. Upon the arrival of Elias and his guide the figures partly rose, but at a signal from the latter they settled back again, satisfying themselves with the observation that the newcomer was unarmed. The old man turned his head slowly and saw the quiet figure of Elias, who stood uncovered, gazing at him with sad interest.

"It’s you at last," murmured the old man, his gaze lighting up somewhat as he recognized the youth.

"In what condition do I find you!" exclaimed the youth in a suppressed tone, shaking his head.

The old man dropped his head in silence and made a sign to the others, who arose and withdrew, first taking the measure of the pilot’s muscles and stature with a glance.

"Yes!" said the old man to Elias as soon as they were alone. "Six months ago when I sheltered you in my house, it was I who pitied you. Now we have changed parts and it is you who pity me. But sit down and tell me how you got here."

"It’s fifteen days now since I was told of your misfortune," began the young man slowly in a low voice as he stared at the light. "I started at once and have been [350]seeking you from mountain to mountain. I’ve traveled over nearly the whole of two provinces." "In order not to shed innocent blood," continued the old man, "I have had to flee. My enemies were afraid to show themselves. I was confronted merely with some unfortunates who have never done me the least harm."

After a brief pause during which he seemed to be occupied in trying to read the thoughts in the dark countenance of the old man, Elias replied: "I’ve come to make a proposition to you. Having sought in vain for some survivor of the family that caused the misfortunes of mine, I’ve decided to leave the province where I live and move toward the North among the independent pagan tribes. Don’t you want to abandon the life you have entered upon and come with me? I will be your son, since you have lost your own; I have no family, and in you will find a father."

The old man shook his, head in negation, saying, "When one at my age makes a desperate resolution, it’s because there is no other recourse. A man who, like myself, has spent his youth and his mature years toiling for the future of himself and his sons; a man who has been submissive to every wish of his superiors, who has conscientiously performed difficult tasks, enduring all that he might live in peace and quiet—when that man, whose blood time has chilled, renounces all his past and foregoes all his future, even on the very brink of the grave, it is because he has with mature judgment decided that peace does not exist and that it is not the highest good. Why drag out miserable days on foreign soil? I had two sons, a daughter, a home, a fortune, I was esteemed and respected; now I am as a tree shorn of its branches, a wanderer, a fugitive, hunted like a wild beast through the forest, and all for what? Because a man dishonored my daughter, because her brothers called that man’s infamy to account, and because that man is set above his fellows with the title of minister of God! In spite of everything, I, her father, [351]I, dishonored in my old age, forgave the injury, for I was indulgent with the passions of youth and the weakness of the flesh, and in the face of irreparable wrong what could I do but hold my peace and save what remained to me? But the culprit, fearful of vengeance sooner or later, sought the destruction of my sons. Do you know what he did? No? You don’t know, then, that he pretended that there had been a robbery committed in the convento and that one of my sons figured among the accused? The other could not be included because he was in another place at the time. Do you know what tortures they were subjected to? You know of them, for they are the same in all the towns! I, I saw my son hanging by the hair, I heard his cries, I heard him call upon me, and I, coward and lover of peace, hadn’t the courage either to kill or to die! Do you know that the theft was not proved, that it was shown to be a false charge, and that in punishment the curate was transferred to another town, but that my son died as a result of his tortures? The other, the one who was left to me, was not a coward like his father, so our persecutor was still fearful that he would wreak vengeance on him, and, under the pretext of his not having his cedula,1 which he had not carried with him just at that time, had him arrested by the Civil Guard, mistreated him, enraged and harassed him with insults until he was driven to suicide! And I, I have outlived so much shame; but if I had not the courage of a father to defend my sons, there yet remains to me a heart burning for revenge, and I will have it! The discontented are gathering under my command, my enemies increase my forces, and on the day that I feel myself strong enough I will descend to the lowlands [352]and in flames sate my vengeance and end my own existence. And that day will come or there is no God!"2 The old man arose trembling. With fiery look and hollow voice, he added, tearing his long hair, "Curses, curses upon me that I restrained the avenging hands of my sons—I have murdered them! Had I let the guilty perish, had I confided less in the justice of God and men, I should now have my sons—fugitives, perhaps, but I should have them; they would not have died under torture! I was not born to be a father, so I have them not! Curses upon me that I had not learned with my years to know the conditions under which I lived! But in fire and blood by my own death I will avenge them!"

In his paroxysm of grief the unfortunate father tore away the bandage, reopening a wound in his forehead from which gushed a stream of blood.

"I respect your sorrow," said Elias, "and I understand your desire for revenge. I, too, am like you, and yet from fear of injuring the innocent I prefer to forget my misfortunes."

"You can forget because you are young and because you haven’t lost a son, your last hope! But I assure you that I shall injure no innocent one. Do you see this wound? Rather than kill a poor cuadrillero, who was doing his duty, I let him inflict it."

"But look," urged Elias, after a moment’s silence, "look what a frightful catastrophe you are going to bring down upon our unfortunate people. If you accomplish your revenge by your own hand, your enemies will make terrible reprisals, not against you, not against those who are armed, but against the peaceful, who as usual will be accused—and then the eases of injustice!"

"Let the people learn to defend themselves, let each one defend himself!"

[353]"You know that that is impossible. Sir, I knew you in other days when you were happy; then you gave me good advice, will you now permit me—" The old man folded his arms in an attitude of attention. "Sir," continued Elias, weighing his words well, "I have had the good fortune to render a service to a young man who is rich, generous, noble, and who desires the welfare of his country. They say that this young man has friends in Madrid—I don’t know myself—but I can assure you that he is a friend of the Captain-General’s. What do you say that we make him the bearer of the people’s complaints, if we interest him in the cause of the unhappy?"

The old man shook his head. "You say that he is rich? The rich think only of increasing their wealth, pride and show blind them, and as they are generally safe, above all when they have powerful friends, none of them troubles himself about the woes of the unfortunate. I know all, because I was rich!"

"But the man of whom I speak is not like the others. He is a son who has been insulted over the memory of his father, and a young man who, as he is soon to have a family, thinks of the future, of a happy future for his children."

"Then he is a man who is going to be happy—our cause is not for happy men."

"But it is for men who have feelings!"

"Perhaps!" replied the old man, seating himself. "Suppose that he agrees to carry our cry even to the Captain-General, suppose that he finds in the Cortes3 delegates who will plead for us; do you think that we shall get justice?" "Let us try it before we resort to violent measure," answered Elias. "You must be surprised that I, another unfortunate, young and strong, should propose to you, old and weak, peaceful measures, but it’s because I’ve seen [354]as much misery caused by us as by the tyrants. The defenseless are the ones who pay." "And if we accomplish nothing?"

"Something we shall accomplish, believe me, for all those who are in power are not unjust. But if we accomplish nothing, if they disregard our entreaties, if man has become deaf to the cry of sorrow from his kind, then I will put myself under your orders!"

The old man embraced the youth enthusiastically. "I accept your proposition, Elias. I know that you will keep your word. You will come to me, and I shall help you to revenge your ancestors, you will help me to revenge my sons, my sons that were like you!"

"In the meantime, sir, you will refrain from violent measures?"

"You will present the complaints of the people, you know them. When shall I know your answer?"

"In four days send a man to the beach at San Diego and I will tell him what I shall have learned from the person in whom I place so much hope. If he accepts, they will give us justice; and if not, I’ll be the first to fall in the struggle that we will begin."

"Elias will not die, Elias will be the leader when Capitan Pablo fails, satisfied in his revenge," concluded the old man, as he accompanied the youth out of the cave into the open air. [355]

 

 

1 In 1883 the old system of "tribute" was abolished and in its place a graduated personal tax imposed. The certificate that this tax had been paid, known as the cédula personal, which also served for personal identification, could be required at any time or place, and failure to produce it was cause for summary arrest. It therefore became, in unscrupulous hands, a fruitful source of abuse, since any "undesirable" against whom no specific charge could be brought might be put out of the way by this means.—TR.
2 Tanawan or Pateros?—Author’s note. The former is a town in Batangas Province, the latter a village on the northern shore of the Lake of Bay, in what is now Rizal Province.—TR.
3 The Spanish Parliament.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLVI -The Cockpit}

Chapter XLVI

The Cockpit

To keep holy the afternoon of the Sabbath one generally goes to the cockpit in the Philippines, just as to the bull-fights in Spain. Cockfighting, a passion introduced into the country and exploited for a century past, is one of the vices of the people, more widely spread than opium-smoking among the Chinese. There the poor man goes to risk all that he has, desirous of getting rich without work. There the rich man goes to amuse himself, using the money that remains to him from his feasts and his masses of thanksgiving. The fortune that he gambles is his own, the cock is raised with much more care perhaps than his son and successor in the cockpit, so we have nothing to say against it. Since the government permits it and even in a way recommends it, by providing that the spectacle may take place only in the public plazas, on holidays (in order that all may see it and be encouraged by the example?), from the high mass until nightfall (eight hours), let us proceed thither to seek out some of our acquaintances.

The cockpit of San Diego does not differ from those to be found in other towns, except in some details. It consists of three parts, the first of which, the entrance, is a large rectangle some twenty meters long by fourteen wide. On one side is the gateway, generally tended by an old woman whose business it is to collect the sa pintu, or admission fee. Of this contribution, which every one pays, the government receives a part, amounting to some hundreds of thousands of pesos a year. It is said that with this money, with which vice pays its license, magnificent [356]schoolhouses are erected, bridges and roads are constructed, prizes for encouraging agriculture and commerce are distributed: blessed be the vice that produces such good results! In this first enclosure are the vendors of buyos, cigars, sweetmeats, and foodstuffs. There swarm the boys in company with their fathers or uncles, who carefully initiate them into the secrets of life. This enclosure communicates with another of somewhat larger dimensions,—a kind of foyer where the public gathers while waiting for the combats. There are the greater part of the fighting-cocks tied with cords which are fastened to the ground by means of a piece of bone or hard wood; there are assembled the gamblers, the devotees, those skilled in tying on the gaffs, there they make agreements, they deliberate, they beg for loans, they curse, they swear, they laugh boisterously. That one fondles his chicken, rubbing his hand over its brilliant plumage, this one examines and counts the scales on its legs, they recount the exploits of the champions.

There you will see many with mournful faces carrying by the feet corpses picked of their feathers; the creature that was the favorite for months, petted and cared for day and night, on which were founded such flattering hopes, is now nothing more than a carcass to be sold for a peseta or to be stewed with ginger and eaten that very night. Sic transit gloria mundi! The loser returns to the home where his anxious wife and ragged children await him, without his money or his chicken. Of all that golden dream, of all those vigils during months from the dawn of day to the setting of the sun, of all those fatigues and labors, there results only a peseta, the ashes left from so much smoke.

In this foyer even the least intelligent takes part in the discussion, while the man of most hasty judgment conscientiously investigates the matter, weighs, examines, extends the wings, feels the muscles of the cocks. Some go very well-dressed, surrounded and followed by the partisans [357]of their champions; others who are dirty and bear the imprint of vice on their squalid features anxiously follow the movements of the rich to note the bets, since the purse may become empty but the passion never satiated. No countenance here but is animated—not here is to be found the indolent, apathetic, silent Filipino—all is movement, passion, eagerness. It may be, one would say, that they have that thirst which is quickened by the water of the swamp. From this place one passes into the arena, which is known as the Rueda, the wheel. The ground here, surrounded by bamboo-stakes, is usually higher than that in the two other divisions. In the back part, reaching almost to the roof, are tiers of seats for the spectators, or gamblers, since these are the same. During the fights these seats are filled with men and boys who shout, clamor, sweat, quarrel, and blaspheme—fortunately, hardly any women get in this far. In the Rueda are the men of importance, the rich, the famous bettors, the contractor, the referee. On the perfectly leveled ground the cocks fight, and from there Destiny apportions to the families smiles or tears, feast or famine.

At the time of entering we see the gobernadorcillo, Capitan Pablo, Capitan Basilio, and Lucas, the man with the sear on his face who felt so deeply the death of his brother.

Capitan Basilio approaches one of the townsmen and asks, "Do you know which cock Capitan Tiago is going to bring?"

"I don’t know, sir. This morning two came, one of them the lásak that whipped the Consul’s talisain."1 "Do you think that my bulik is a match for it?"

"I should say so! I’ll bet my house and my camisa on it!"

At that moment Capitan Tiago arrives, dressed like the heavy gamblers, in a camisa of Canton linen, woolen pantaloons, [358]and a wide straw hat. Behind him come two servants carrying the lásak and a white cock of enormous size. "Sinang tells me that Maria is improving all the time," says Capitan Basilio.

"She has no more fever but is still very weak."

"Did you lose last night?"

"A little. I hear that you won. I’m going to see if I can’t get even here."

"Do you want to fight the lásak?" asks Capitan Basilio, looking at the cock and taking it from the servant. "That depends—if there’s a bet."

"How much will you put up?"

"I won’t gamble for less than two."

"Have you seen my bulik?" inquires Capitan Basilio, calling to a man who is carrying a small game-cock.

Capitan Tiago examines it and after feeling its weight and studying its scales returns it with the question, "How much will you put up?"

"Whatever you will."

"Two, and five hundred?"

"Three?"

"Three!"

"For the next fight after this!"

The chorus of curious bystanders and the gamblers spread the news that two celebrated cocks will fight, each of which has a history and a well-earned reputation. All wish to see and examine the two celebrities, opinions are offered, prophecies are made.

Meanwhile, the murmur of the voices grows, the confusion increases, the Rueda is broken into, the seats are filled. The skilled attendants carry the two cocks into the arena, a white and a red, already armed but with the gaffs still sheathed. Cries are heard, "On the white!" "On the white!" while some other voice answers, "On the red!" The odds are on the white, he is the favorite; the red is the "outsider," the dejado.

[359]Members of the Civil Guard move about in the crowd. They are not dressed in the uniform of that meritorious corps, but neither are they in civilian costume. Trousers of guingón with a red stripe, a camisa stained blue from the faded blouse, and a service-cap, make up their costume, in keeping with their deportment; they make bets and keep watch, they raise disturbances and talk of keeping the peace. While the spectators are yelling, waving their hands, flourishing and clinking pieces of silver; while they search in their pockets for the last coin, or, in the lack of such, try to pledge their word, promising to sell the carabao or the next crop, two boys, brothers apparently, follow the bettors with wistful eyes, loiter about, murmur timid words to which no one listens, become more and more gloomy and gaze at one another ill-humoredly and dejectedly. Lucas watches them covertly, smiles malignantly, jingles his silver, passes close to them, and gazing into the Rueda, cries out:

"Fifty, fifty to twenty on the white!"

The two brothers exchange glances.

"I told you," muttered the elder, "that you shouldn’t have put up all the money. If you had listened to me we should now have something to bet on the red."

The younger timidly approached Lucas and touched him on the arm.

"Oh, it’s you!" exclaimed the latter, turning around with feigned surprise. "Does your brother accept my proposition or do you want to bet?"

"How can we bet when we’ve lost everything?"

"Then you accept?"

"He doesn’t want to! If you would lend us something, now that you say you know us—"

Lucas scratched his head, pulled at his camisa, and replied, "Yes, I know you. You are Tarsilo and Bruno, both young and strong. I know that your brave father died as a result of the hundred lashes a day those soldiers [360]gave him. I know that you don’t think of revenging him." "Don’t meddle in our affairs!" broke in Tarsilo, the elder. "That might lead to trouble. If it were not that we have a sister, we should have been hanged long ago."

"Hanged? They only hang a coward, one who has no money or influence. And at all events the mountains are near."

"A hundred to twenty on the white!" cried a passer-by.

"Lend us four pesos, three, two," begged the younger.

"We’ll soon pay them back double. The fight is going to commence."

Lucas again scratched his head. "Tush! This money isn’t mine. Don Crisostomo has given it to me for those who are willing to serve him. But I see that you’re not like your father—he was really brave—let him who is not so not seek amusement!" So saying, he drew away from them a little.

"Let’s take him up, what’s the difference?" said Bruno. "It’s the same to be shot as to be hanged. We poor folks are good for nothing else."

"You’re right—but think of our sister!"

Meanwhile, the ring has been cleared and the combat is about to begin. The voices die away as the two starters, with the expert who fastens the gaffs, are left alone in the center. At a signal from the referee, the expert unsheathes the gaffs and the fine blades glitter threateningly.

Sadly and silently the two brothers draw nearer to the ring until their foreheads are pressed against the railing. A man approaches them and calls into their ears, "Pare,2 a hundred to ten on the white!" Tarsilo stares at him in a foolish way and responds to Bruno’s nudge with a grunt.

The starters hold the cocks with skilful delicacy, taking care not to wound themselves. A solemn silence reigns; [361]the spectators seem to be changed into hideous wax figures. They present one cock to the other, holding his head down so that the other may peck at it and thus irritate him. Then the other is given a like opportunity, for in every duel there must be fair play, whether it is a question of Parisian cocks or Filipino cocks. Afterwards, they hold them up in sight of each other, close together, so that each of the enraged little creatures may see who it is that has pulled out a feather, and with whom he must fight. Their neck-feathers bristle up as they gaze at each other fixedly with flashes of anger darting from their little round eyes. Now the moment has come; the attendants place them on the ground a short distance apart and leave them a clear field. Slowly they advance, their footfalls are, audible on the hard ground. No one in the crowd speaks, no one breathes. Raising and lowering their heads as if to gauge one another with a look, the two cocks utter sounds of defiance and contempt. Each sees the bright blade throwing out its cold, bluish reflections. The danger animates them and they rush directly toward each other, but a pace apart they check themselves with fixed gaze and bristling plumage. At that moment their little heads are filled with a rush of blood, their anger flashes forth, and they hurl themselves together with instinctive valor. They strike beak to beak, breast to breast, gaff to gaff, wing to wing, but the blows are skilfully parried, only a few feathers fall. Again they size each other up: suddenly the white rises on his wings, brandishing the deadly knife, but the red has bent his legs and lowered his head, so the white smites only the empty air.. Then on touching the ground the white, fearing a blow from behind, turns quickly to face his adversary. The red attacks him furiously, but he defends himself calmly—not undeservedly is he the favorite of the spectators, all of whom tremulously and anxiously follow the fortunes of the fight, only here and there an involuntary cry being heard.

[362]The ground becomes strewn with red and white feathers dyed in blood, but the contest is not for the first blood; the Filipino, carrying out the laws dictated by his government, wishes it to be to the death or until one or the other turns tail and runs. Blood covers the ground, the blows are more numerous, but victory still hangs in the balance. At last, with a supreme effort, the white throws himself forward for a final stroke, fastens his gaff in the wing of the red and catches it between the bones. But the white himself has been wounded in the breast and both are weak and feeble from loss of blood. Breathless, their strength spent, caught one against the other, they remain motionless until the white, with blood pouring from his beak, falls, kicking his death-throes. The red remains at his side with his wing caught, then slowly doubles up his legs and gently closes his eyes. Then the referee, in accordance with the rule prescribed by the government, declares the red the winner. A savage yell greets the decision, a yell that is heard over the whole town, even and prolonged. He who hears this from afar then knows that the winner is the one against which the odds were placed, or the joy would not be so lasting. The same happens with the nations: when a small one gains a victory over a large one, it is sung and recounted from age to age.

"You see now!" said Bruno dejectedly to his brother, "if you had listened to me we should now have a hundred pesos. You’re the cause of our being penniless."

Tarsilo did not answer, but gazed about him as if looking for some one.

"There he is, talking to Pedro," added Bruno. "He’s giving him money, lots of money!"

True it was that Lucas was counting silver coins into the hand of Sisa’s husband. The two then exchanged some words in secret and separated, apparently satisfied.

"Pedro must have agreed. That’s what it is to be decided," sighed Bruno.

[363]Tarsilo remained gloomy and thoughtful, wiping away with the cuff of his camisa the perspiration that ran down his forehead. "Brother," said Bruno, "I’m going to accept, if you don’t decide. The law3 continues, the lásak must win and we ought not to lose any chance. I want to bet on the next fight. What’s the difference? We’ll revenge our father." "Wait!" said Tarsilo, as he gazed at him fixedly, eye to eye, while both turned pale. "I’ll go with you, you’re right. We’ll revenge our father." Still, he hesitated, and again wiped away the perspiration.

"What’s stopping you?" asked Bruno impatiently.

"Do you know what fight comes next? Is it worth while?"

"If you think that way, no! Haven’t you heard? The bulik of Capitan Basilio’s against Capitan Tiago’s lásak. According to the law the lásak must win."

"Ah, the lásak! I’d bet on it, too. But let’s be sure first."

Bruno made a sign of impatience, but followed his brother, who examined the cock, studied it, meditated and reflected, asked some questions. The poor fellow was in doubt. Bruno gazed at him with nervous anger.

"But don’t you see that wide scale he has by the side of his spur? Don’t you see those feet? What more do you want? Look at those legs, spread out his wings! And this split scale above this wide one, and this double one?"

Tarsilo did not hear him, but went on examining the cock. The clinking of gold and silver came to his ears. "Now let’s look at the bulik," he said in a thick voice.

Bruno stamped on the ground and gnashed his teeth, but obeyed. They approached another group where a cock was being prepared for the ring. A gaff was selected, red [364]silk thread for tying it on was waxed and rubbed thoroughly. Tarsilo took in the creature with a gloomily impressive gaze, as if he were not looking at the bird so much as at something in the future. He rubbed his hand across his forehead and said to his brother in a stifled voice, "Are you ready?" "I? Long ago! Without looking at them!"

"But, our poor sister—"

"Abá! Haven’t they told you that Don Crisostomo is the leader? Didn’t you see him walking with the Captain-General? What risk do we run?"

"And if we get killed?"

"What’s the difference? Our father was flogged to death!"

"You’re right!"

The brothers now sought for Lucas in the different groups. As soon as they saw him Tarsilo stopped. "No! Let’s get out of here! We’re going to ruin ourselves!" he exclaimed.

"Go on if you want to! I’m going to accept!"

"Bruno!"

Unfortunately, a man approached them, saying, "Are you betting? I’m for the bulik!" The brothers did not answer.

"I’ll give odds!"

"How much?" asked Bruno.

The man began to count out his pesos. Bruno watched him breathlessly.

"I have two hundred. Fifty to forty!"

"No," said Bruno resolutely. "Put—"

"All right! Fifty to thirty!"

"Double it if you want to."

"All right. The bulik belongs to my protector and I’ve just won. A hundred to sixty!"

"Taken! Wait till I get the money."

"But I’ll hold the stakes," said the other, not confiding much in Bruno’s looks.

[365]"It’s all the same to me," answered the latter, trusting to his fists. Then turning to his brother he added, "Even if you do keep out, I’m going in." Tarsilo reflected: he loved his brother and liked the sport, and, unable to desert him, he murmured, "Let it go."

They made their way to Lucas, who, on seeing them approach, smiled.

"Sir!" called Tarsilo.

"What’s up?"

"How much will you give us?" asked the two brothers together.

"I’ve already told you. If you will undertake to get others for the purpose of making a surprise-attack on the barracks, I’ll give each of you thirty pesos and ten pesos for each companion you bring. If all goes well, each one will receive a hundred pesos and you double that amount. Don Crisostomo is rich."

"Accepted!" exclaimed Bruno. "Let’s have the money."

"I knew you were brave, as your father was! Come, so that those fellows who killed him may not overhear us," said Lucas, indicating the civil-guards.

Taking them into a corner, he explained to them while he was counting out the money, "Tomorrow Don Crisostomo will get back with the arms. Day after tomorrow, about eight o’clock at night, go to the cemetery and I’ll let you know the final arrangements. You have time to look for companions."

After they had left him the two brothers seemed to have changed parts—Tarsilo was calm, while Bruno was uneasy. [366]

 

 

1 Lásak, talisain, and bulik are some of the numerous terms used in the vernacular to describe fighting-cocks.—TR.
2 Another form of the corruption of compadre, "friend," "neighbor."—TR.
3 It is a superstition of the cockpit that the color of the victor in the first bout decides the winners for that session: thus, the red having won, the lásak, in whose plumage a red color predominates, should be the victor in the succeeding bout.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLVII -The Two Señoras}

Chapter XLVII

The Two Señoras

While Capitan Tiago was gambling on his lásak, Doña Victorina was taking a walk through the town for the purpose of observing how the indolent Indians kept their houses and fields. She was dressed as elegantly as possible with all her ribbons and flowers over her silk gown, in order to impress the provincials and make them realize what a distance intervened between them and her sacred person. Giving her arm to her lame husband, she strutted along the streets amid the wonder and stupefaction of the natives. Her cousin Linares had remained in the house.

"What ugly shacks these Indians have!" she began with a grimace. "I don’t see how they can live in them—one must have to be an Indian! And how rude they are and how proud! They don’t take off their hats when they meet us! Hit them over the head as the curates and the officers of the Civil Guard do—teach them politeness!"

"And if they hit me back?" asked Dr. De Espadaña.

"That’s what you’re a man for!"

"B-but, I’m l-lame!"

Doña Victorina was falling into a bad humor. The streets were unpaved and the train of her gown was covered with dust. Besides, they had met a number of young women, who, in passing them, had dropped their eyes and had not admired her rich costume as they should have done. Sinang’s cochero, who was driving Sinang and her cousin in an elegant carriage, had the impudence to yell "Tabi!" in such a commanding tone that she had to jump out of the way, and could only protest: "Look at that [367]brute of a cochero! I’m going to tell his master to train his servants better." "Let’s go back to the house," she commanded to her husband, who, fearing a storm, wheeled on his crutch in obedience to her mandate.

They met and exchanged greetings with the alferez. This increased Doña Victorina’s ill humor, for the officer not only did not proffer any compliment on her costume, but even seemed to stare at it in a mocking way.

"You ought not to shake hands with a mere alferez," she said to her husband as the soldier left them. "He scarcely touched his helmet while you took off your hat. You don’t know how to maintain your rank!"

"He’s the b-boss here!"

"What do we care for that? We are Indians, perhaps?"

"You’re right," he assented, not caring to quarrel. They passed in front of the officer’s dwelling. Doña Consolacion was at the window, as usual, dressed in flannel and smoking her cigar. As the house was low, the two señoras measured one another with looks; Doña Victorina stared while the Muse of the Civil Guard examined her from head to foot, and then, sticking out her lower lip, turned her head away and spat on the ground. This used up the last of Doña Victorina’s patience. Leaving her husband without support, she planted herself in front of the alfereza, trembling with anger from head to foot and unable to speak. Doña Consolacion slowly turned her head, calmly looked her over again, and once more spat, this time with greater disdain.

"What’s the matter with you, Doña?" she asked.

"Can you tell me, señora, why you look at me so? Are you envious?" Doña Victorina was at length able to articulate.

"I, envious of you, I, of you?" drawled the Muse. "Yes, I envy you those frizzes!"

"Come, woman!" pleaded the doctor. "D-don’t t-take any n-notice!"

[368]"Let me teach this shameless slattern a lesson," replied his wife, giving him such a shove that he nearly kissed the ground. Then she again turned to Doña Consolacion. "Remember who you’re dealing with!" she exclaimed. "Don’t think that I’m a provincial or a soldier’s querida! In my house in Manila the alfereces don’t eater, they wait at the door."

"Oho, Excelentísima Señora! Alfereces don’t enter, but cripples do—like that one—ha, ha, ha!"

Had it not been for the rouge, Doña Victorian would have been seen to blush. She tried to get to her antagonist, but the sentinel stopped her. In the meantime the street was filling up with a curious crowd.

"Listen, I lower myself talking to you—people of quality—Don’t you want to wash my clothes? I’ll pay you well! Do you think that I don’t know that you were a washerwoman?"

Doña Consolacion straightened up furiously; the remark about washing hurt her. "Do you think that we don’t know who you are and what class of people you belong with? Get out, my husband has already told me! Señora, I at least have never belonged to more than one, but you? One must be dying of hunger to take the leavings, the mop of the whole world!"

This shot found its mark with Doña Victorina. She rolled up her sleeves, clenched her fists, and gritted her teeth. "Come down, old sow!" she cried. "I’m going to smash that dirty mouth of yours! Querida of a battalion, filthy hag!"

The Muse immediately disappeared from the window and was soon seen running down the stairs flourishing her husband’s whip.

Don Tiburcio interposed himself supplicatingly, but they would have come to blows had not the alferez arrived on the scene.

"Ladies! Don Tiburcio!"

"Train your woman better, buy her some decent clothes, [369]and if you haven’t any money left, rob the people—that’s what you’ve got soldiers for!" yelled Doña Victorina. "Here I am, señora! Why doesn’t your Excellency smash my mouth? You’re only tongue and spittle, Doña Excelencia!"

"Señora!" cried the alferez furiously to Doña Victorina, "be thankful that I remember that you’re a woman or else I’d kick you to pieces—frizzes, ribbons, and all!"

"S-señor Alferez!"

"Get out, you quack! You don’t wear the pants!"

The women brought into play words and gestures, insults and abuse, dragging out all the evil that was stored in the recesses of their minds. Since all four talked at once and said so many things that might hurt the prestige of certain classes by the truths that were brought to light, we forbear from recording what they said. The curious spectators, while they may not have understood all that was said, got not a little entertainment out of the scene and hoped that the affair would come to blows. Unfortunately for them, the curate came along and restored order.

"Señores! Señoras! What a shame! Señor Alferez!"

"What are you doing here, you hypocrite, Carlist!"

"Don Tiburcio, take your wife away! Señora, hold your tongue!"

"Say that to these robbers of the poor!"

Little by little the lexicon of epithets was exhausted, the review of shamelessness of the two couples completed, and with threats and insults they gradually drew away from one another. Fray Salvi moved from one group to the other, giving animation to the scene. Would that our friend the correspondent had been present!

"This very day we’ll go to Manila and see the Captain-General!" declared the raging Doña Victorina to her husband. "You’re not a man! It’s a waste of money to buy trousers for you!"

"B-but, woman, the g-guards? I’m l-lame!"

[370]"You must challenge him for pistol or sword, or—or—" Doña Victorina stared fixedly at his false teeth. "My d-dear, I’ve never had hold of a—"

But she did not let him finish. With a majestic sweep of her hand she snatched out his false teeth and trampled them in the street.

Thus, he half-crying and she breathing fire, they reached the house. Linares was talking with Maria Clara, Sinang, and Victoria, and as he had heard nothing of the quarrel, became rather uneasy at sight of his cousins. Maria Clara, lying in an easy-chair among pillows and wraps, was greatly surprised to see the new physiognomy of her doctor.

"Cousin," began Doña Victorina, "you must challenge the alferez right away, or—"

"Why?" asked the startled Linares.

"You challenge him right now or else I’ll tell everybody here who you are."

"But, Doña Victorina!"

The three girls exchanged glances.

"You’ll see! The alferez has insulted us and said that you are what you are! His old hag came down with a whip and he, this thing here, permitted the insult—a man!"

"Abá!" exclaimed Sinang, "they’re had a fight and we didn’t see it!"

"The alferez smashed the doctor’s teeth," observed Victoria.

"This very day we go to Manila. You, you stay here to challenge him or else I’ll tell Don Santiago that all we’re told him is a lie, I’ll tell him—"

"But, Doña Victorina, Doña Victorina," interrupted the now pallid Linares, going up to her, "be calm, don’t call up—" Then he added in a whisper, "Don’t be imprudent, especially just now."

At that moment Capitan Tiago came in from the cockpit, sad and sighing; he had lost his lásak. But Doña Victorina left him no time to grieve. In a few words but [371]with no lack of strong language she related what had happened, trying of course to put herself in the best light possible. "Linares is going to challenge him, do you hear? If he doesn’t, don’t let him marry your daughter, don’t you permit it! If he hasn’t any courage, he doesn’t deserve Clarita!"

"So you’re going to marry this gentleman?" asked Sinang, but her merry eyes filled with tears. "I knew that you were prudent but not that you were fickle."

Pale as wax, Maria Clara partly rose and stared with frightened eyes at her father, at Doña Victorina, at Linares. The latter blushed, Capitan Tiago dropped his eyes, while the señora went on:

"Clarita, bear this in mind: never marry a man that doesn’t wear trousers. You expose yourself to insults, even from the dogs!"

The girl did not answer her, but turned to her friends and said, "Help me to my room, I can’t walk alone."

By their aid she rose, and with her waist encircled by the round arms of her friends, resting her marble-like head on the shoulder of the beautiful Victoria, she went to her chamber.

That same night the married couple gathered their effects together and presented Capitan Tiago with a bill which amounted to several thousand pesos. Very early the following day they left for Manila in his carriage, committing to the bashful Linares the office of avenger. [372]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLVIII -The Enigma}

Chapter XLVIII

The Enigma

Volverán las oscuras golondrinas.

1 BECQUER.

As Lucas had foretold, Ibarra arrived on the following day. His first visit was to the family of Capitan Tiago for the purpose of seeing Maria Clara and informing her that his Grace had reconciled him with religion, and that he brought to the curate a letter of recommendation in the handwriting of the Archbishop himself. Aunt Isabel was not a little rejoiced at this, for she liked the young man and did not look favorably on the marriage of her niece with Linares. Capitan Tiago was not at home.

"Come in," said the aunt in her broken Spanish. "Maria, Don Crisostomo is once more in the favor of God. The Archbishop has discommunicated him."

But the youth was unable to advance, the smile froze on his lips, words failed him. Standing on the balcony at the side of Maria Clara was Linares, arranging bouquets of flowers and leaves. Roses and sampaguitas were scattered about on the floor. Reclining in a big chair, pale, with a sad and pensive air, Maria Clara toyed with an ivory fan which was not whiter than her shapely fingers.

At the appearance of Ibarra, Linares turned pale and Maria Clara’s cheeks flushed crimson. She tried to rise, but strength failed her, so she dropped her eyes and let the fan fall. An embarrassed silence prevailed for a few moments. Ibarra was then able to move forward and murmur tremblingly, "I’ve just got back and have come immediately [373]to see you. I find you better than I had thought I should." The girl seemed to have been stricken dumb; she neither said anything nor raised her eyes.

Ibarra looked Linares over from head to foot with a stare which the bashful youth bore haughtily.

"Well, I see that my arrival was unexpected," said Ibarra slowly. "Maria, pardon me that I didn’t have myself announced. At some other time I’ll be able to make explanations to you about my conduct. We’ll still see one another surely."

These last words were accompanied by a look at Linares. The girl raised toward him her lovely eyes, full of purity and sadness. They were so beseeching and eloquent that Ibarra stopped in confusion.

"May I come tomorrow?"

"You know that for my part you are always welcome," she answered faintly.

Ibarra withdrew in apparent calm, but with a tempest in his head and ice in his heart. What he had just seen and felt was incomprehensible to him: was it doubt, dislike, or faithlessness?

"Oh, only a woman after all!" he murmured.

Taking no note of where he was going, he reached the spot where the schoolhouse was under construction. The work was well advanced, Ñor Juan with his mile and plumb-bob coming and going among the numerous laborers. Upon catching sight of Ibarra he ran to meet him.

"Don Crisostomo, at last you’ve come! We’ve all been waiting for you. Look at the walls, they’re already more than a meter high and within two days they’ll be up to the height of a man. I’ve put in only the strongest and most durable woods—molave, dungon, ipil, langil—and sent for the finest—tindalo, malatapay, pino, and narra—for the finishings. Do you want to look at the foundations?"

The workmen saluted Ibarra respectfully, while Ñor [374]Juan made voluble explanations. "Here is the piping that I have taken the liberty to add," he said. "These subterranean conduits lead to a sort of cesspool, thirty yards away. It will help fertilize the garden. There was nothing of that in the plan. Does it displease you?" "Quite the contrary, I approve what you’ve done and congratulate you. You are a real architect. From whom did you learn the business?"

"From myself, sir," replied the old man modestly.

"Oh, before I forget about it—tell those who may have scruples, if perhaps there is any one who fears to speak to me, that I’m no longer excommunicated. The Archbishop invited me to dinner."

"Abá, sir, we don’t pay any attention to excommunications! All of us are excommunicated. Padre Damaso himself is and yet he stays fat."

"How’s that?"

"It’s true, sir, for a year ago he caned the coadjutor, who is just as much a sacred person as he is. Who pays any attention to excommunications, sir?"

Among the laborers Ibarra caught sight of Elias, who, as he saluted him along with the others, gave him to understand by a look that he had something to say to him.

"Ñor Juan," said Ibarra, "will you bring me your list of the laborers?"

Ñor Juan disappeared, and Ibarra approached Elias, who was by himself, lifting a heavy stone into a cart.

"If you can grant me a few hours’ conversation, sir, walk down to the shore of the lake this evening and get into my banka." The youth nodded, and Elias moved away.

Ñor Juan now brought the list, but Ibarra scanned it in vain; the name of Elias did not appear on it! [375]

 

 

1 The dark swallows will return.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XLIX -The Voice of the Hunted}

Chapter XLIX

The Voice of the Hunted

As the sun was sinking below the horizon Ibarra stepped into Elias’s banka at the shore of the lake. The youth looked out of humor.

"Pardon me, sir," said Elias sadly, on seeing him, "that I have been so bold as to make this appointment. I wanted to talk to you freely and so I chose this means, for here we won’t have any listeners. We can return within an hour."

"You’re wrong, friend," answered Ibarra with a forced smile. "You’ll have to take me to that town whose belfry we see from here. A mischance forces me to this."

"A mischance?"

"Yes. On my way here I met the alferez and he forced his company on me. I thought of you and remembered that he knows you, so to get away from him I told him that I was going to that town. I’ll have to stay there all day, since he will look for me tomorrow afternoon."

"I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you might simply have invited him to accompany you," answered Elias naturally.

"What about you?"

"He wouldn’t have recognized me, since the only time he ever saw me he wasn’t in a position to take careful note of my appearance."

"I’m in bad luck," sighed Ibarra, thinking of Maria Clara. "What did you have to tell me?"

Elias looked about him. They were already at a distance from the shore, the sun had set, and as in these latitudes there is scarcely any twilight, the shades were [376]lengthening, bringing into view the bright disk of the full moon. "Sir," replied Elias gravely, "I am the bearer of the wishes of many unfortunates."

"Unfortunates? What do you mean?"

In a few words Elias recounted his conversation with the leader of the tulisanes, omitting the latter’s doubts and threats. Ibarra listened attentively and was the first to break the long silence that reigned after he had finished his story.

"So they want—"

"Radical reforms in the armed forces, in the priesthood, and in the administration of justice; that is to say, they ask for paternal treatment from the government."

"Reforms? In what sense?"

"For example, more respect for a man’s dignity, more security for the individual, less force in the armed forces, fewer privileges for that corps which so easily abuses what it has."

"Elias," answered the youth, "I don’t know who you are, but I suspect that you are not a man of the people; you think and act so differently from others. You will understand me if I tell you that, however imperfect the condition of affairs may be now, it would be more so if it were changed. I might be able to get the friends that I have in Madrid to talk, by paying them; I might even be able to see the Captain-General; but neither would the former accomplish anything nor has the latter sufficient power to introduce so many novelties. Nor would I ever take a single step in that direction, for the reason that, while I fully understand that it is true that these corporations have their faults, they are necessary at this time. They are what is known as a necessary evil."

Greatly surprised, Elias raised his head and looked at him in astonishment. "Do you, then, also believe in a necessary evil, sir?" he asked in a voice that trembled [377]slightly. "Do you believe that in order to do good it is necessary to do evil?" "No, I believe in it as in a violent remedy that we make use of when we wish to cure a disease. Now then, the country is an organism suffering from a chronic malady, and in order to cure it, the government sees the necessity of employing such means, harsh and violent if you wish, but useful and necessary."

"He is a bad doctor, sir, who seeks only to destroy or stifle the symptoms without an effort to examine into the origin of the malady, or, when knowing it, fears to attack it. The Civil Guard has only this purpose: the repression of crime by means of terror and force, a purpose that it does not fulfil or accomplishes only incidentally. You must take into account the truth that society can be severe with individuals only when it has provided them with the means necessary for their moral perfection. In our country, where there is no society, since there is no unity between the people and the government, the latter should be indulgent, not only because indulgence is necessary but also because the individual, abandoned and uncared for by it, has less responsibility, for the very reason that he has received less guidance. Besides, following out your comparison, the treatment that is applied to the ills of the country is so destructive that it is felt only in the sound parts of the organism, whose vitality is thus weakened and made receptive of evil. Would it not be more rational to strengthen the diseased parts of the organism and lessen the violence of the remedy a little?"

"To weaken the Civil Guard would be to endanger the security of the towns."

"The security of the towns!" exclaimed Elias bitterly. "It will soon be fifteen years since the towns have had their Civil Guard, and look: still we have tulisanes, still we hear that they sack towns, that they infest the highways. Robberies continue and the perpetrators are not hunted down; crime flourishes, and the real criminal goes scot-free, [378]but not so the peaceful inhabitant of the town. Ask any honorable citizen if he looks upon this institution as a benefit, a protection on the part of the government, and not as an imposition, a despotism whose outrageous acts do more damage than the violent deeds of criminals. These latter are indeed serious, but they are rare, and against them one has the right to defend himself, but against the molestations of legal force he is not even allowed a protest, and if they are not serious they are nevertheless continued and sanctioned. What effect does this institution produce among our people? It paralyzes communication because all are afraid of being abused on trifling pretexts. It pays more attention to formalities than to the real nature of things, which is the first symptom of incapacity. Because one has forgotten his cedula he must be manacled and knocked about, regardless of the fact that he may be a decent and respectable citizen. The superiors hold it their first duty to make people salute them, either willingly or forcibly, even in the darkness of the night, and their inferiors imitate them by mistreating and robbing the country folk, nor are pretexts lacking to this end. Sanctity of the home does not exist; not long ago in Kalamba they entered, by forcing their way through the windows, the house of a peaceful inhabitant to whom their chief owed money and favors. There is no personal security; when they need to have their barracks or houses cleaned they go out and arrest any one who does not resist them, in order to make him work the whole day. Do you care to hear more? During these holidays gambling, which is prohibited by law, has gone on while they forcibly broke up the celebrations permitted by the authorities. You saw what the people thought about these things; what have they got by repressing their anger and hoping for human justice? Ah, sir, if that is what you call keeping the peace—" "I agree with you that there are evils," replied Ibarra, "but let us bear with those evils on account of the benefits [379]that accompany them. This institution may be imperfect, but, believe me, by the fear that it inspires it keeps the number of criminals from increasing." "Say rather that by this fear the number is increased," corrected Elias. "Before the creation of this corps almost all the evil-doers, with the exception of a very few, were criminals from hunger. They plundered and robbed in order to live, but when their time of want was passed, they again left the highways clear. Sufficient to put them to flight were the poor, but brave cuadrilleros, they who have been so calumniated by the writers about our country, who have for a right, death, for duty, fighting, and for reward, jests. Now there are tulisanes who are such for life. A single fault, a crime inhumanly punished, resistance against the outrages of this power, fear of atrocious tortures, east them out forever from society and condemn them to slay or be slain. The terrorism of the Civil Guard closes against them the doors of repentance, and as outlaws they fight to defend themselves in the mountains better than the soldiers at whom they laugh. The result is that we are unable to put an end to the evil that we have created. Remember what the prudence of the Captain-General de la Torre1 accomplished. The amnesty granted by him to those unhappy people has proved that in those mountains there still beat the hearts of men and that they only wait for pardon. Terrorism is useful when the people are slaves, when the mountains afford no hiding-places, when power places a sentinel behind every tree, and when the body of the slave contains nothing more than a stomach and intestines. But when in desperation he fights for his life, feeling his arm strong, his heart throb, his whole being fill with hate, how can terrorism hope to extinguish the flame to which it is only adding fuel?"

[380]"I am perplexed, Elias, to hear you talk thus, and I should almost believe that you were right had I not my own convictions. But note this fact—and don’t be offended, for I consider you an exception—look who the men are that ask for these reforms" nearly all criminals or on the way to be such!" "Criminals now, or future criminals; but why are they such? Because their peace has been disturbed, their happiness destroyed, their dearest affections wounded, and when they have asked justice for protection, they have become convinced that they can expect it only from themselves. But you are mistaken, sir, if you think that only the criminals ask for justice. Go from town to town, from house to house, listen to the secret sighings in the bosoms of the families, and you will be convinced that the evils which the Civil Guard corrects are the same as, if not less than, those it causes all the time. Should we decide from this that all the people are criminals? If so, then why defend some from the others, why not destroy them all?"

"Some error exists here which I do not see just now some fallacy in the theory to invalidate the practise, for in Spain, the mother country, this corps is displaying, and has ever displayed, great usefulness."

"I don’t doubt it. Perhaps there, it is better organized, the men of better grade, perhaps also Spain needs it while the Philippines does not. Our customs, our mode of life, which are always invoked when there is a desire to deny us some right, are entirely overlooked when the desire is to impose something upon us. And tell me, sir, why have not the other nations, which from their nearness to Spain must be more like her than the Philippines is, adopted this institution? Is it because of this that they still have fewer robberies on their railway trains, fewer riots, fewer murders, and fewer assassinations in their great capitals?"

Ibarra bowed his head in deep thought, raising it after a few moments to reply: "This question, my friend, calls for serious study. If my inquiries convince me that these [381]complaints are well founded I will write to my friends in Madrid, since we have no representatives. Meanwhile, believe me that the government needs a corps with strength enough to make itself respected and to enforce its authority." "Yes, sir, when the government is at war with the country. But for the welfare of the government itself we must not have the people think that they are in opposition to authority. Rather, if such were true, if we prefer force to prestige, we ought to take care to whom we grant this unlimited power, this authority. So much power in the hands of men, ignorant men filled with passions, without moral training, of untried principles, is a weapon in the hands of a madman in a defenseless multitude. I concede and wish to believe with you that the government needs this weapon, but then let it choose this weapon carefully, let it select the most worthy instruments, and since it prefers to take upon itself authority, rather than have the people grant it, at least let it be seen that it knows how to exercise it."

Elias spoke passionately, enthusiastically, in vibrating tones; his eyes flashed. A solemn pause followed. The banka, unimpelled by the paddle, seemed to stand still on the water. The moon shone majestically in a sapphire sky and a few lights glimmered on the distant shore.

"What more do they ask for?" inquired Ibarra.

"Reform in the priesthood," answered Elias in a sad and discouraged tone. "These unfortunates ask for more protection against—"

"Against the religious orders?"

"Against their oppressors, sir."

"Has the Philippines forgotten what she owes to those orders? Has she forgotten the immense debt of gratitude that is due from her to those who snatched her from error to give her the true faith, to those who have protected her against the tyrannical acts of the civil power? This is the evil result of not knowing the history of our native land!"

[382]The surprised Elias could hardly credit what he heard. "Sir," he replied in a grave tone, "you accuse these people of ingratitude; let me, one of the people who suffer, defend them. Favors rendered, in order to have any claims to recognition, must be disinterested. Let us pass over its missionary work, the much-invoked Christian charity; let us brush history aside and not ask what Spain has done with the Jewish people, who gave all Europe a Book, a Religion, and a God; what she has done with the Arabic people, who gave her culture, who were tolerant with her religious beliefs, and who awoke her lethargic national spirit, so nearly destroyed during the Roman and Gothic dominations. You say that she snatched us from error and gave us the true faith: do you call faith these outward forms, do you call religion this traffic in girdles and scapularies, truth these miracles and wonderful tales that we hear daily? Is this the law of Jesus Christ? For this it was hardly necessary that a God should allow Himself to be crucified or that we should be obliged to show eternal gratitude. Superstition existed long before—it was only necessary to systematize it and raise the price of its merchandise! "You will tell me that however imperfect our religion may be at present, it is preferable to what we had before. I believe that, too, and would agree with you in saying so, but the cost is too great, since for it we have given up our nationality, our independence. For it we have given over to its priests our best towns, our fields, and still give up our savings by the purchase of religious objects. An article of foreign manufacture has been introduced among us, we have paid well for it, and we are even.

"If you mean the protection that they afforded us against the encomenderos,2 I might answer that through them we [383]fell under the power of the encomenderos. But no, I realize that a true faith and a sincere love for humanity guided the first missionaries to our shores; I realize the debt of gratitude we owe to those noble hearts; I know that at that time Spain abounded in heroes of all kinds, in religious as well as in political affairs, in civil and in military life. But because the forefathers were virtuous, should we consent to the abuses of their degenerate descendants? Because they have rendered us great service, should we be to blame for preventing them from doing us wrong? The country does not ask for their expulsion but only for reforms required by the changed circumstances and new needs." "I love our native land as well as you can, Elias; I understand something of what it desires, and I have listened with attention to all you have said. But, after all, my friend, I believe that we are looking at things through rather impassioned eyes. Here, less than in other parts, do I see the necessity for reforms."

"Is it possible, sir," asked Elias, extending his arms in a gesture of despair, "that you do not see the necessity for reforms, you, after the misfortunes of your family?"

"Ah, I forget myself and my own troubles in the presence of the security of the Philippines, in the presence of the interests of Spain!" interrupted Ibarra warmly. "To preserve the Philippines it is meet that the friars continue as they are. On the union with Spain depends the welfare of our country."

When Ibarra had ceased Elias still sat in an attitude of attention with a sad countenance and eyes that had lost their luster. "The missionaries conquered the country, it is true," he replied, "but do you believe that by the friars the Philippines will be preserved?"

"Yes, by them alone. Such is the belief of all who have written about the country."

[384]"Oh!" exclaimed Elias dejectedly, throwing the paddle clown in the banka, "I did not believe that you would have so poor an idea of the government and of the country. Why don’t you condemn both? What would you say of the members of a family that dwells in peace only through the intervention of an outsider: a country that is obedient because it is deceived; a government that commands be, cause it avails itself of fraud, a government that does not know how to make itself loved or respected for its own sake? Pardon me, sir, but I believe that our government is stupid and is working its own ruin when it rejoices that such is the belief. I thank you for your kindness, where do you wish me to take you now?" "No," replied Ibarra, "let us talk; it is necessary to see who is right on such an important subject."

"Pardon me, sir," replied Elias, shaking his head, "but I haven’t the eloquence to convince you. Even though I have had some education I am still an Indian, my way of life seems to you a precarious one, and my words will always seem to you suspicious. Those who have given voice to the opposite opinion are Spaniards, and as such, even though they may speak idly and foolishly, their tones, their titles, and their origin make their words sacred and give them such authority that I have desisted forever from arguing against them. Moreover, when I see that you, who love your country, you, whose father sleeps beneath these quiet waters, you, who have seen yourself attacked, insulted, and persecuted, hold such opinions in spite of all these things, and in spite of your knowledge, I begin to doubt my own convictions and to admit the possibility that the people may be mistaken. I’ll have to tell those unfortunates who have put their trust in men that they must place it in God and their own strength. Again I thank you—tell me where I shall take you."

"Elias, your bitter words touch my heart and make me also doubt. What do you want? I was not brought up among the people, so I am perhaps ignorant of their needs. [385]I spent my childhood in the Jesuit college, I grew up in Europe, I have been molded by books, learning only what men have been able to bring to light. What remains among the shadows, what the writers do not tell, that I am ignorant of. Yet I love our country as you do, not only because it is the duty of every man to love the country to which he owes his existence and to which he will no doubt owe his final rest, not only because my father so taught me, but also because my mother was an Indian, because my fondest recollections cluster around my country, and I love it also because to it I owe and shall ever owe my happiness!" "And I, because to it I owe my misfortunes," muttered Elias.

"Yes, my friend, I know that you suffer, that you are unfortunate, and that those facts make you look into the future darkly and influence your way of thinking, so I am somewhat forearmed against your complaints. If I could understand your motives, something of your past—"

"My misfortunes had another source. If I thought that the story of them would be of any use, I would relate it to you, since, apart from the fact that I make no secret of it, it is quite well known to many."

"Perhaps on hearing it I might correct my opinions. You know that I do not trust much to theories, preferring rather to be guided by facts."

Elias remained thoughtful for a few moments. "If that is the case, sir, I will tell you my story briefly." [386]

 

 

1 General Carlos Maria de let Torte y Nava Carrada, the first "liberal" governor of the Philippines, was Captain-General from 1869 to 1871. He issued an amnesty to the outlaws and created the Civil Guard, largely from among those who surrendered themselves in response to it.—TR.
2 After the conquest (officially designated as the "pacification"), the Spanish soldiers who had rendered faithful service were allotted districts known as encomiendas, generally of about a thousand natives each. The encomendero was entitled to the tribute from the people in his district and was in return supposed to protect them and provide religious instruction. The early friars alleged extortionate greed and [383n]brutal conduct on the part of the encomenderos and made vigorous protests in the natives’ behalf.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter L -Elias’s Story}

Chapter L

Elias’s Story

"Some sixty years ago my grandfather dwelt in Manila, being employed as a bookkeeper in a Spanish commercial house. He was then very young, was married, and had a son. One night from some unknown cause the warehouse burned down. The fire was communicated to the dwelling of his employer and from there to many other buildings. The losses were great, a scapegoat was sought, and the merchant accused my grandfather. In vain he protested his innocence, but he was poor and unable to pay the great lawyers, so he was condemned to be flogged publicly and paraded through the streets of Manila. Not so very long since they still used the infamous method of punishment which the people call the ‘caballo y vaca,’1 and which is a thousand times more dreadful than death itself. Abandoned by all except his young wife, my grandfather saw himself tied to a horse, followed by an unfeeling crowd, and whipped on every street-corner in the sight of men, his brothers, and in the neighborhood of numerous temples of a God of peace. When the wretch, now forever disgraced, had satisfied the vengeance of man with his blood, his tortures, and his cries, he had to be taken off the horse, for he had become unconscious. Would to God that he had died! But by one of those refinements of cruelty he was given his liberty. His wife, pregnant at the time, vainly begged from door to door for work or alms in order to care for her sick husband and their poor son, but who would trust the wife of an incendiary and a disgraced man? The wife, then, had to become a prostitute!"

[387]Ibarra rose in his seat. "Oh, don’t get excited! Prostitution was not now a dishonor for her or a disgrace to her husband; for them honor and shame no longer existed. The husband recovered from his wounds and came with his wife and child to hide himself in the mountains of this province. Here they lived several months, miserable, alone, hated and shunned by all. The wife gave birth to a sickly child, which fortunately died. Unable to endure such misery and being less courageous than his wife, my grandfather, in despair at seeing his sick wife deprived of all care and assistance, hanged himself. His corpse rotted in sight of the son, who was scarcely able to care for his sick mother, and the stench from it led to their discovery. Her husband’s death was attributed to her, for of what is the wife of a wretch, a woman who has been a prostitute besides, not believed to be capable? If she swears, they call her a perjurer; if she weeps, they say that she is acting; and that she blasphemes when she calls on God. Nevertheless, they had pity on her condition and waited for the birth of another child before they flogged her. You know how the friars spread the belief that the Indians can only be managed by blows: read what Padre Gaspar de San Agustin says!2

[388]"A woman thus condemned will curse the day on which her child is born, and this, besides prolonging her torture, violates every maternal sentiment. Unfortunately, she brought forth a healthy child. Two months afterwards, the sentence was executed to the great satisfaction of the men who thought that thus they were performing their duty. Not being at peace in these mountains, she then fled with her two sons to a neighboring province, where they lived like wild beasts, hating and hated. The elder of the two boys still remembered, even amid so much misery, the happiness of his infancy, so he became a tulisan as soon as he found himself strong enough. Before long the bloody name of Balat spread from province to province, a terror to the people, because in his revenge he did everything with blood and fire. The younger, who was by nature kind-hearted, resigned himself to his shameful fate along with his mother, and they lived on what the woods afforded, clothing themselves in the cast-off rags of travelers. She had lost her name, being known only as the convict, the prostitute, the scourged. He was known as the son of his mother only, because the gentleness of his disposition led every one to believe that he was not the son of the incendiary and because any doubt as to the morality of the Indians can be held reasonable. "At last, one day the notorious Balat fell into the clutches of the authorities, who exacted of him a strict accounting for his crimes, and of his mother for having done nothing to rear him properly. One morning the [389]younger brother went to look for his mother, who had gone into the woods to gather mushrooms and had not returned. He found her stretched out on the ground under a cotton-tree beside the highway, her face turned toward the sky, her eyes fixed and staring, her clenched hands buried in the blood-stained earth. Some impulse moved him to look up in the direction toward which the eyes of the dead woman were staring, and he saw hanging from a branch a basket and in the basket the gory head of his brother!" "My God!" ejaculated Ibarra.

"That might have been the exclamation of my father," continued Elias coldly. "The body of the brigand had been cut up and the trunk buried, but his limbs were distributed and hung up in different towns. If ever you go from Kalamba to Santo Tomas you will still see a withered lomboy-tree where one of my uncle’s legs hung rotting—nature has blasted the tree so that it no longer grows or bears fruit. The same was done with the other limbs, but the head, as the best part of the person and the portion most easily recognizable, was hung up in front of his mother’s hut!"

Ibarra bowed his head.

"The boy fled like one accursed," Elias went on. "He fled from town to town by mountain and valley. When he thought that he had reached a place where he was not known, he hired himself out as a laborer in the house of a rich man in the province of Tayabas. His activity and the gentleness of his character gained him the good-will of all who did not know his past, and by his thrift and economy he succeeded in accumulating a little capital. He was still young, he thought his sorrows buried in the past, and he dreamed of a happy future. His pleasant appearance, his youth, and his somewhat unfortunate condition won him the love of a young woman of the town, but he dared not ask for her hand from fear that his past might become known. But love is stronger than anything else and they wandered from the straight path, so, to save the woman’s [390]honor, he risked everything by asking for her in marriage. The records were sought and his whole past became known. The girl’s father was rich and succeeded in having him prosecuted. He did not try to defend himself but admitted everything, and so was sent to prison. The woman gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, who were nurtured in secret and made to believe that their father was dead no difficult matter, since at a tender age they saw their mother die, and they gave little thought to tracing genealogies. As our maternal grandfather was rich our childhood passed happily. My sister and I were brought up together, loving one another as only twins can love when they have no other affections. When quite young I was sent to study in the Jesuit College, and my sister, in order that we might not be completely separated, entered the Concordia College.3 After our brief education was finished, since we desired only to be farmers, we returned to the town to take possession of the inheritance left us by our grandfather. We lived happily for a time, the future smiled on us, we had many servants, our’ fields produced abundant harvests, and my sister was about to be married to a young man whom she adored and who responded equally to her affection. "But in a dispute over money and by reason of my haughty disposition at that time, I alienated the good will of a distant relative, and one day he east in my face my doubtful birth and shameful descent. I thought it all a slander and demanded satisfaction. The tomb which covered so much rottenness was again opened and to my consternation the whole truth came out to overwhelm me. To add to our sorrow, we had had for many years an old servant who had endured all my whims without ever leaving [391]us, contenting himself merely with weeping and groaning at the rough jests of the other servants. I don’t know how my relative had found it out, but the fact is that he had this old man summoned into court and made him tell the truth: that old servant, who had clung to his beloved children, and whom I had abused many times, was my father! Our happiness faded away, I gave up our fortune, my sister lost her betrothed, and with our father we left the town to seek refuge elsewhere. The thought that he had contributed to our misfortunes shortened the old man’s days, but before he died I learned from his lips the whole story of the sorrowful past. "My sister and I were left alone. She wept a great deal, but even in the midst of such great sorrows as heaped themselves upon us, she could not forget her love. Without complaining, without uttering a word, she saw her former sweetheart married to another girl, but I watched her gradually sicken without being able to console her. One day she disappeared, and it was in vain that I sought everywhere, in vain I made inquiries about her. About six months afterwards I learned that about that time, after a flood on the lake, there had been found in some rice fields bordering on the beach at Kalamba, the corpse of a young woman who had been either drowned or murdered, for she had had, so they said, a knife sticking in her breast. The officials of that town published the fact in the country round about, but no one came to claim the body, no young woman apparently had disappeared. From the description they gave me afterward of her dress, her ornaments, the beauty of her countenance, and her abundant hair, I recognized in her my poor sister.

"Since then I have wandered from province to province. My reputation and my history are in the mouths of many. They attribute great deeds to me, sometimes calumniating me, but I pay little attention to men, keeping ever on my way. Such in brief is my story, a story of one of the judgments of men."

[392]Elias fell silent as he rowed along. "I still believe that you are not wrong," murmured Crisostomo in a low voice, "when you say that justice should seek to do good by rewarding virtue and educating the criminals. Only, it’s impossible, Utopian! And where could be secured so much money, so many new employees?"

"For what, then, are the priests who proclaim their mission of peace and charity? Is it more meritorious to moisten the head of a child with water, to give it salt to eat, than to awake in the benighted conscience of a criminal that spark which God has granted to every man to light him to his welfare? Is it more humane to accompany a criminal to the scaffold than to lead him along the difficult path from vice to virtue? Don’t they also pay spies, executioners, civil-guards? These things, besides being dirty, also cost money."

"My friend, neither you nor I, although we may wish it, can accomplish this."

"Alone, it is true, we are nothing, but take up the cause of the people, unite yourself with the people, be not heedless of their cries, set an example to the rest, spread the idea of what is called a fatherland!"

"What the people ask for is impossible. We must wait."

"Wait! To wait means to suffer!"

"If I should ask for it, the powers that be would laugh at me."

"But if the people supported you?"

"Never! I will never be the one to lead the multitude to get by force what the government does not think proper to grant, no! If I should ever see that multitude armed I would place myself on the side of the government, for in such a mob I should not see my countrymen. I desire the country’s welfare, therefore I would build a schoolhouse. I seek it by means of instruction, by progressive advancement; without light there is no road."

"Neither is there liberty without strife!" answered Elias.

[393]"The fact is that I don’t want that liberty!" "The fact is that without liberty there is no light," replied the pilot with warmth. "You say that you are only slightly acquainted with your country, and I believe you. You don’t see the struggle that is preparing, you don’t see the cloud on the horizon. The fight is beginning in the sphere of ideas, to descend later into the arena, which will be dyed with blood. I hear the voice of God—woe unto them who would oppose it! For them History has not been written!"

Elias was transfigured; standing uncovered, with his manly face illuminated by the moon, there was something extraordinary about him. He shook his long hair, and went on:

"Don’t you see how everything is awakening? The sleep has lasted for centuries, but one day the thunderbolt4 struck, and in striking, infused life. Since then new tendencies are stirring our spirits, and these tendencies, today scattered, will some day be united, guided by the God who has not failed other peoples and who will not fail us, for His cause is the cause of liberty!" A solemn silence followed these words, while the banka, carried along insensibly by the waves, neared the shore.

Elias was the first to break the silence. "What shall I tell those who sent me?" he asked with a change from his former tone.

"I’ve already told you: I greatly deplore their condition, but they should wait. Evils are not remedied by other evils, and in our misfortunes each of us has his share of blame."

Elias did not again reply, but dropped his head and rowed along until they reached the shore, where he took leave of Ibarra: "I thank you, sir, for the condescension you have shown me. Now, for your own good, I beg of you that in the future you forget me and that you do not [394]recognize me again, no matter in what situation you may find me." So saying, he drew away in the banka, rowing toward a thicket on the shore. As he covered the long distance he remained silent, apparently intent upon nothing but the thousands of phosphorescent diamonds that the oar caught up and dropped back into the lake, where they disappeared mysteriously into the blue waves.

When he had reached the shadow of the thicket a man came out of it and approached the banka. "What shall I tell the capitan?" he asked.

"Tell him that Elias, if he lives, will keep his word," was the sad answer.

"When will you join us, then?"

"When your capitan thinks that the hour of danger has come."

"Very well. Good-by!"

"If I don’t die first," added Elias in a low voice. [395]

 

Continue Reading Chapter LI to LX

1 Horse and cow.
2 Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, O.S.A., who came to the Philippines in 1668 and died in Manila in 1724, was the author of a history of the conquest, but his chief claim to immortality comes from a letter written in 1720 on the character and habits of "the Indian inhabitants of these islands," a letter which was widely circulated and which has been extensively used by other writers. In it the writer with senile querulousness harped up and down the whole gamut of abuse in describing and commenting upon the vices of the natives, very artlessly revealing the fact in many places, however, that his observations were drawn principally from the conduct of the servants in the conventos and homes of Spaniards. To him in this letter is due the credit of giving its wide popularity to the specious couplet:
El bejuco crece
(The rattan thrives Donde el indio nace, Where the Indian lives,)
which the holy men who delighted in quoting it took as an additional evidence of the wise dispensation of the God of Nature, rather inconsistently [388n]overlooking its incongruity with the teachings of Him in whose name they assumed their holy office. It seems somewhat strange that a spiritual father should have written in such terms about his charges until the fact appears that the letter was addressed to an influential friend in Spain for use in opposition to a proposal to carry out the provisions of the Council of Trent by turning the parishes in the islands over to the secular, and hence, native, clergy. A translation of this bilious tirade, with copious annotations showing to what a great extent it has been used by other writers, appears in Volume XL of Blair and Robertson’s The Philippine Islands.— TR.
3 The Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion Concordia, situated near Santa Aria in the suburbs of Manila, was founded in 1868 for the education of native girls, by a pious Spanish-Filipino lady, who donated a building and grounds, besides bearing the expense of bringing out seven Sisters of Charity to take charge of it.—TR. 4 The execution of the Filipino priests Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, in 1872.—TR.


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